At a time when we are all feeling the squeeze, there are still ways in which you can support your favourite charities.
Features editor Joni Ager suggests 10 ways to help without spending a penny.
Through your bank account
There is a way you can give money to charity without actually giving away your own money.
The Market Harborough Building Society, which has a branches across Northamptonshire, offers its customers a Cransley Hospice Account.
The building society will make a donation equating to one per cent of the account’s average balance each year. This money is paid by the company, not taken from the account holder.
The hospice received £6,500 through Cransley Hospice Accounts last year.
There are all sorts of used and unwanted items charities can make some money from.
Mobile phones, old stamps and foreign currency can all be given to charities who in turn recycle them or exchange them for cash.
For example, an old phone which would otherwise be collecting dust in a drawer somewhere might be worth £3 or £4.
Diana Patrick, fundraiser at Cransley Hospice, said: “This is stuff that would otherwise go out with the rubbish.”
Doing your laundry
It sounds hard to believe, but you can even donate to charity simply by taking your washing to a laundrette.
Ecospin Laundry Services, which is in Eskdaill Street, Kettering, has agreed to give £1 to Cransley for every duvet that is brought in to be cleaned this year.
To find out more call Ecospin on 01536 411906.
Get web savvy
A car dealership has pledged to donate money to Cransley Hospice for every person who follows them on Twitter or becomes their Facebook friend.
Croyland Car Megastore in Rushden is aiming to donate £10,000 to the charity through the scheme, which also serves as good publicity for the company.
Spring clean your wardrobe
It’s obvious from the number of charity bags that come through our letterboxes that charities can make cash from our old clothes.
Charities including the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation and the NSPCC all do doorstep collections where they will take away your old clothes, shoes and bags and recycle them for money.
Unwanted clothes in good condition can also be old in their charity shops.
Give up your time
There are countless ways in which you can help a charity by giving up your time as a volunteer.
You could help out in a charity shop – sorting clothes and greeting customers – or become a volunteer driver, collecting clothing donations.
Cransley is also looking for cake bakers. It sells cakes to raise money at its coffee mornings and pamper days.
Rally your colleagues
Many companies support charity events, such as Jeans for Genes Day, or raise money for causes like Sport Relief.
You could nominate a charity of the year and hold a series of events to raise money for that cause, from cake sales to sponsored challenges.
If you are supporting a breast cancer charity, try a wear pink day, or encourage your male colleagues to take part in Movember which raises money for prostate cancer charities.
Don’t bin it
If you have a pile of unwanted Christmas gifts, from a jumper that doesn’t fit to a set of toiletries you’ll never use, give them to charity.
These items can always be given away as raffle prizes or sold in a charity shop to raise money.
Set up a clothing bank
Get rid of the need for charity collection bags once and for all by arranging for a clothing bank to be set up in your workplace car park.
Cransley Hospice has clothing banks it can provide for any companies with the space in their car park.
Sacrifice your birthday gifts
Instead of accepting Christmas or birthday presents, ask your loved ones to make a donation to a charity in your name.
Charities can make use of Gift Aid to increase the amount they receive. For example, a £5 donation can be worth just over £6 to a charity.