But it can often be difficult to see how your £2 or £10 or £20 a month can really make a difference, and there is some doubt, especially with the bigger charities with their admin costs and big campaign budgets, whether the money you give will actually reach the people who need it at all.
The truth of it is that planned giving can make an enormous difference, because it's not just your few pounds, it's hundreds or thousands of people's few pounds, and all that added together will get through to where it's needed most.
Planned giving means that charities can plan weeks, months, even years in advance. They can decide what to build, what projects to begin, or which to advance; they can begin work in another village or with another family; they can strategise and budget well in advance. And all of that means that, with our help, however small, they can help those who need it, and we can all make a difference.
I wanted to share with you an amazing success story we heard about from ChildAid recently. This story of two beautiful sisters from the Ukraine shows just how we can all make a difference this year, please set up a direct debit, to a charity of your choice (even if it's only for £1 a month!) today.
Ruslana's and Anna's parents were alcoholics and had no income and no means by which to care for their two children.
As soon as the children were able to walk unaided their parents forced them onto the street to beg in flimsy rags. In order to prevent the neighbours hearing the girl’s cries for food and safety, their mother forced the girls to sit in a bath of cold water for long periods. Ruslana and Anya would wait until they knew their parents were lost in their drunken stupor and then sneak out asking neighbours to keep them warm by hugging them.
Soon the mother tired of Ruslana and Anya completely and decided to sell them to a “rich” neighbour. Fortunately the neighbour would have none of it and the children were taken into care. When they were 7 and 6 years old news came that their mother had died. There was no news of the father who, by now had lost even the little interest he had once had in them. The girls then lived, for the next 8 years, a life completely invisible to the outside world, unloved and with nothing to interest them or excite them.
In 2010, thanks to the tireless work of our partners at Childrens Hearts they were fostered by a loving Christian family and began to learn what it is to love and be loved.
But, how has this love and a full family life impacted on the girl's lives ... lives which had, until finding family love, frightening and hopeless prospects?
She has achieved her ambition to enter medical college and is doing really well. She has grown in these short years into a very mature young woman. She is learning to form and maintain relationships and well aware how to deal with "boyfriends" who may struggle to know how to behave in a family setting.
A helpful teenager, who is supportive of others in need and takes a mature attitude to all her studies, including additional classes in English. She attends church regularly with an active on-going role in serving the worshipping community as well as participating in family prayers and Bible reading every day at home. Following an inspirational summer camp it is wonderful to say that she offered herself for, and was, baptised.
Two teenagers, plucked from "the jaws of hell" and ready to lead transformed lives.
This is how your money, even if it's just a couple of pounds a month, can impact on children's lives, and this story is repeated around the world. Whatever your personal preferences, there is a charity out there that is a good match for you - please, make 2013 the year you find it and start giving a regular amount each month. You might even consider sponsoring a child this year, a truly amazing experience.
As for us, Lara has been watching the Water Aid adverts with great interest, and last week asked if we could help the children, so that's our new charity commitment for 2013. What's yours?
And don't forget to enter our competitions!