Charities board update
Please note, our Forum rules no longer allow the posting of links to personal fundraising or crowdfunding pages, such as JustGiving. You can read the full set of our Forum rules here.

How to directly help someone?

Having worked for several charities both big and small, I've seen how much money is spent on wages / admin, or totally wasted on needless things. I'm not bashing all charities as some are run amazingly, but I have become more skeptical than I used to be.

How can I help someone directly and be sure they receive something that really benefits them? Having watched random acts of kindness videos I really feel inspired to do something but I don't know where to start. Any ideas very welcome.


  • Lovely idea for a thread. I will have a think.
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,013 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    How can I help someone directly and be sure they receive something that really benefits them?
    The short answer is either 'it depends' or 'you can't', IMO. I can only speak for my city, but ...

    It depends who you want to help, and how. However I think you need to be quite careful. There is, for example, an initiative round our way to knit or buy woolly hats, scarves, gloves etc and attach them to street furniture with a label saying "Please help yourself if you are in need."

    Which is great, until the rain comes, at which point you have a ratty collection of soggy stuff tied to the street furniture.

    Then there's the 'help yourself clothes rail'. It's not manned: the idea is that if you need something, you take it. That at least has the advantage that someone puts it out and takes it in again. And it's in a subway, so the clothes don't get soaking wet. But suppose you give a coat - you have no idea if it's going to be taken by someone 'in need', or someone who spots a coat that's just their colour.

    Plus, taking it to extremes, you don't know if that coat, taken by someone 'in need' really benefits them, or whether it would have been better if they'd gone to one of the established drop-in centres for homeless people. There, perhaps, they might have been able to see a doctor because someone hears their nasty cough. Or a worker or volunteer might have sorted out hostel accommodation for that night, with ongoing support out of the hostel and into something better. But a warm coat from the street might make them think they're OK for a day or two more.

    I know this view may not be particularly fashionable ... but I do think it's good if people contact local organisations who are already trying to help the kind of people you want to help. There's always more to be done. They've probably got sound reasons for not doing what might look obvious to you. You can get involved and find out whether it's an amazing organisation, or a so-so one which isn't making good use of its resources. And either way, you may be able to make a difference ...
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • I'm a volunteer for Girlguiding. Each group is managed independently, with it's own accounts and bank account. My reward each week is seeing how much the girls enjoy the different activities that we do. Perhaps volunteering for Guiding or Scouting might be an idea? Many areas need extra volunteers, and if you can't make a weekly commitment, you can chat to the local commissioner about what commitment you can make.
  • Elljay_2
    Elljay_2 Posts: 606 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Do you have an Acts of Kindness near you? I live in the Solent area and they are always shouting out for direct help....i.e crocheting octopuses for local neonatal unit - collecting Easter Eggs for underprivileged children, asking for clothes for children in local hostel and at the moment they are involved in raising money for a young mum who desperately needs life-saving surgery. It doesn't feel like a faceless charity, it feels as if everyone pulls together to help those in need. They have even put together a little "pick me up" hamper for an 84 year old lady who had her purse stolen.....I heard about it on FB but they do have a website (well the Solent one does).
  • Fireflyaway
    Fireflyaway Posts: 2,766 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post
    Thanks everyone nice ideas. Its always hard to know who is genuine and who isn't. My work place organises food parcels and whilst some people are in desperate need through no fault of their own, there are people who would rather have free food in order to have money to spend on other stuff!
    I'm going to check out random acts of kindness right now.
This discussion has been closed.
Meet your Ambassadors


  • All Categories
  • 343K Banking & Borrowing
  • 250K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.6K Spending & Discounts
  • 235K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 607.7K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 173K Life & Family
  • 247.7K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.9K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards