Elizabeth Shaw spends much of her retirement supporting charities including the YMCA, with which she has been involved since 1994. She makes donations through a charitable fund set up with CAF
How did you become involved with the YMCA? When Maggie Thatcher reduced the higher rate of income tax, I considered that those on middle incomes and the well off had a duty to support charities - as was the case before the welfare state was introduced in the 1940s. It so happened that the YMCA flyer "Invest £5,000 in a young person's future" arrived in the mail around this time. I am committed to this charity because if I had been thrown out of home at 16 with no emotional support from my family I don't think I would have been able to cope very well.
Are there any other charities you support?
I also support my local YMCA branch in Earl's Court. As a committed giver, I was invited to visit this branch in 2000 to find out how my money was being used. I have since then developed a relationship with the staff and begun helping them financially in addition to YMCA England. They have a number of small needs for which they cannot really apply for funding, such as purchasing a TV or buying equipment for their garden, so I help them with that. The other charities I donate to are the RNID, the RNIB, overseas charities and the International Federation of the Red Cross.
I also volunteer for Contact the Elderly. Once a month, I drive a group of three people to a private house where they can spend a couple of hours drinking tea and chatting.
Approximately how much money do you give per year? A tenth of my pension goes to charities through a small charitable trust managed by the Charities Aid Foundation.
Do you attend fundraising events? No. I don't believe that fundraising events are an effective way of raising funds because you cannot claim Gift Aid on donations. I prefer filling a donation form. But I do go to other charity events such as the YMCA's annual lunch for committed donors.