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15 Mar 2022

How to make your support for Ukraine go as far as possible

You can increase the money you give to charity with Gift Aid and donation matching

Many people in the UK are keen to know the best ways to help people in Ukraine, but might not know where to donate or how to avoid scams.

According to The Charity Commission, the most efficient and helpful way to support those in need is to give money to established, registered charities that have experience in delivering humanitarian aid.

Here, Which? sets out the leading charities to consider, explains how to maximise your donations and avoid unscrupulous scammers trying to cash in on the situation.

Plus, for those wanting to help Ukrainian refugees in the UK, we also outline the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme, which started accepting sponsor applications on 14 March.

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How to donate to Ukraine

There are a number of charitable foundations collecting funds and supplies for Ukraine. Donating cash is said to be the most effective way to support them, as it can be transferred to areas where it's needed quickly.

  • The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is an umbrella group for 15 of the UK's leading aid charities, including Save the Children, Oxfam, British Red Cross and Action Against Hunger. Its Ukraine humanitarian appeal is raising funds for those fleeing their homes. You can donate via the DEC website, the individual member sites, via cash or card at the Post Office or by text when you text 'SUPPORT' to 70150 (this will cost £10 plus your standard network charge). Morrisons shoppers can also add donations to their online shopping basket, ranging from £1 to £10.
  • Unicef is working with partners to provide humanitarian supplies for vulnerable Ukrainian children and families, including health, education, protection and sanitation.
  • The British Red Cross is also supporting teams in surrounding countries taking in refugees from Ukraine. It accepts donations by phone on 0300 023 0820, or by post when you download and print its PDF form.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross is raising money in several currencies to improve the living conditions of Ukrainians whose homes have been damaged by heavy fighting.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) Foundation has a health emergency appeal for Ukraine, and is taking donations online. Money is being used to deliver healthcare services.
  • Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders is collecting donations to provide emergency medical aid to people still in Ukraine, as well as those who are seeking safety in neighbouring countries. You can make a one-off or regular monthly donation online.
  • British-Ukrainian Aid has been set up in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Donations can be made via the Just Giving platform, and provide assistance to those who have been physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged, whether that's people who are injured, displaced or have lost family members.
  • The UN Refugee Agency is providing aid and protection to families fleeing their homes in Ukraine. You can make a single donation, or set up monthly instalments, online.
  • People In Need, a charity primarily based in Czech Republic, is taking online donations in sterling, euros, US dollars and Czech koruna. It's been working to deliver water and psychological assistance to people to have been affected by the invasion.

Individuals have also taken to social media with their own donation appeals. These may be legitimate, but giving to informal fundraising appeals means your funds might not necessarily be spent how you wish, or in line with the charity law framework.

If money is tight, it's still possible to make a difference in Ukraine by donating points and cashback, which won't eat into your budget.

Nectar points

Nectar points can be used to donate to a range of charities.

Simply log in to Nectar online, and go to Nectar Donate. You can select a charity you want to give money to - the list includes the DEC and Unicef, which are raising money for Ukraine.

Comic Relief is also a Nectar spend partner until 18 March 2022 - the charity is collecting money for a number of causes, including giving support to a number of organisations helping those affected by the fighting in Ukraine.

Sainsbury's says it will match any Nectar points donations up to £500,000.

Clubcard points

Tesco shoppers can make charitable donations via till round-ups (where your shop is rounded up to the nearest pound, and the difference is donated to charity), and by spending Clubcard points on charitable donations.

There are nine charity partners listed online, which include the British Red Cross. Clubcard voucher and till round-up donations made to the British Red Cross between now and 21 March will be matched by Tesco up to a total of £700,000 in the UK.

Marks & Spencer Sparks

Those signed up to Marks & Spencer Sparks rewards can select Unicef UK as their chosen charity - this means Marks & Spencer will make double donations to the charity every time you shop.

The retailer is also giving shoppers the opportunity to make charitable donations at its till points.

NatWest MyRewards

If you earn MyRewards with NatWest or Royal Bank of Scotland, you can donate rewards of £5+ to DEC's appeal, and NatWest will match donations up to £1m, or until 30 June 2022 (whichever happens sooner).


Shoppers who use cashback site TopCashback can donate their earnings to charity. There's a huge range to choose from, including the DEC, British-Ukrainian Aid and other charities we've listed above.

Give As You Earn

It's possible to set up charitable donations so they're paid via PAYE directly from your wages or pension. You won't pay income tax on the money you give, meaning you might feel you can donate more than you would after tax.

Making a pre-tax donation will have the effect of reducing your tax bill, as you won't be receiving as much money to be charged tax on - this works in a similar way to a salary sacrifice arrangement. However, you'll still pay the same amount of National Insurance, as this is charged before the donation.

For this option, your employer or pension provider must be set up with a Payroll Giving agency. These agencies receive the donations and pass them on to the chosen charities.

HMRC has published a list of approved agencies for Payroll Giving, including the Charities Aid Foundation which is part of the DEC.

Should you add Gift Aid?

If you opt to make a donation through the Gift Aid scheme, the charity can reclaim an additional 20% of the balance directly from HMRC - at no extra costs to you.

That's because, when you make your donation, the scheme assumes you've already paid 20% tax on that money before you received it, usually via PAYE.

So, if you make a £50 charitable donation, the charity can claim back £12.50 as the 20% tax you paid on your earnings, so it receives £62.50 altogether.

Higher-rate taxpayers, who pay up to 40% tax, can claim the additional 20% tax relief through a self-assessment tax return.

How to avoid scams when donating to charity

Cryptocurrency donations have been welcomed by some organisations; the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine even tweeted crypto wallet codes for bitcoin, ethereum and tether donations. But unfortunately crypto scammers have jumped on the opportunity to dupe donors into transferring funds to bogus accounts.

There have been reports of scammers on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram asking for money, as well as fake charities being set up to encourage donations.

The Charity Commission has suggested some tips to make sure you're not making a charity donation to a fraudster.

  • Check the charity's details: most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered at gov.uk/checkcharity. If you click on the 'Advanced search' button, it's also possible to find charities working in specific regions and countries to make sure they exist before giving any of your financial information.
  • Find out how the charity uses its funds: if you're going to donate money, make sure the charity you choose is going to use it in a way you agree with. Most charities will have this information on their websites, but you can also contact them to find out more about how the funds are used. Illegitimate organisations are unlikely to be able to provide convincing information.
  • Look for the Fundraising Badge: charities that have committed to fundraise in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice will usually exhibit the Fundraising Badge logo on their fundraising materials - this is a purple circle containing the letters 'FR', which words next to it saying 'Registered with Fundraising Regulator.'
  • Be careful with emails and texts: if you receive an unsolicited email or text claiming to be from a charity, think twice before replying or clicking on any links within them - phishing emails and texts are popular with scammers hoping to pull off authorised push-payment scams.

Find out more:how to spot a scam

Homes for Ukraine Scheme

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme was set up by the government as a way for those in the UK to volunteer rent-free accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, which will be matched up to Ukrainian applicants who need a place to stay.

If you want to volunteer separate self-contained accommodation or a spare room in your home, you should be willing to provide accommodation for at least six months. You can register your interest online now.

You may need to undergo security and safeguarding checks, and your council will also check the accommodation you're offering is suitable.

Each household housing a refugee will be offered £350 a month as an optional 'thank you' payment for as long as you sponsor someone, for up to 12 months. This payment is tax-free.

People arriving in the UK under the scheme will be able to live and work here for up to three years, and will be able to access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education and English language tuition.

Local authorities will receive an extra £10,500 per refugee to fund support services.

Check your policies

You might want to check whether your mortgage contract, tenancy agreement and home insurance policies are affected prior to having anyone come to stay in your home on a long-term basis.

Given the situation, companies will hopefully be lenient. LV, for example, says any Ukrainian refugees staying in people's home will be treated as family members and will have their belongings covered by their host's home insurance policy.

This story was updated on 15 March 2022, with information on the new Homes for Ukraine Scheme.