In part 2 of the IELTS speaking test, you will be asked to describe something. There are many, many different possibilities, including people, memories, objects, places, and animals, but today we are going to look at something a bit different. It is: “Describe a charity.”

In this lesson, we will cover a possible cue card, some useful language, other advice, and I will also provide my own sample answer.

Cue Card: Describe a Charity

First of all, let’s look at a likely cue card for this topic:

Describe a charity which is important to you.

You should say:

– what the charity does

– why you are interested in this charity

– how this charity raises money

and explain whether you think it is important for people to get involved in charity work.

Remember that this is just one theoretical example and there is no such thing as a list of guaranteed IELTS questions to memorise. You should instead focus on preparing for common topics.

Analysing the Cue Card

You do not really need to talk about everything on the cue card but it is generally a good idea to do so. This will help you talk logically and fluently. As you can imagine, this is a stressful part of the test and people tend to get pretty flustered about it. It’s good to follow a list of bullet points to avoid getting mixed up.

First of all, though, we need to make sure that we understand what the cue card is asking us. In this case, we need to think about two things:

  • Our answer must revolve around a charity (ie not a business or government)
  • It must be one that we consider important (ie don’t later criticise it too much)

This probably sounds very obvious, but you would be surprised how easy it is to panic and make a mistake. Some people think about charities, then giving away money, and that might bring them to think of a business or governmental agency.

As for the bullet points, it is a good idea to talk about these things. It can help you to give a full, rounded answer that allows you to show off your English skills. It is usually structured so that you can explain the main topic adequately. In this case, the instructions are pretty straightforward.

Charity Vocabulary

For this sort of question, you will need to know some language related to charities. First of all, let’s just think about the main word itself: charity.

NounAdjectiveAdverb
CharityCharitableCharitably

It is helpful to know this sort of language because you can then apply these variants to make your sentences more interesting. There is no verb form, but rather we would say “give to charity.” It is also worth knowing some of these words and phrases:

VocabularyMeaningExample
Donate(verb) give (money or goods) for a good causeLast week, we donated our old clothes to a charity that serves homeless people.
Giving(adj.) generous, compassionateShe was a giving person by nature.
Underprivileged(adj.) not enjoying the same standard of living or rights as the majority of people in a societyThis charity aims to help the underprivileged in society.
Transparent(adj.) open to public scrutinyIt is essential for charities to be transparent in this day and age, or else they will draw criticism.
Volunteer(verb) work for an organization without being paidI volunteered in Nepal for two years after university.
Volunteer(noun) a person who does unpaid workShe is a volunteer at the local animal shelter.

When it comes to charity, there were invariably be some talk of money because a lot of charities rely upon donations. As such, you should be aware of verb-preposition collocations. For example:

  • Give (money) to (someone/something)
  • Save (money) for (someone/something)
  • Spend (money) (on) (someone/something)

Note how these are used in the following passage:

  • I think it is really important for people to give money to charity because otherwise there will be people in society who have nothing. Governments don’t spend nearly enough on solving the homeless epidemic or dealing with refugees. I always save some of my income for charitable purposes because it is really important to me… and I hope it becomes important to you, too.

You can read some more vocabulary to describe a charity for IELTS here. It is a listening exercise but it contains some good vocab practice.

Making Notes

After you are given the cue card, you will have just one minute to think about your answer. During this time, it is a good idea to make a few notes. The time will fly by quickly and you cannot write nearly as much as you would think, but it is worth trying to note down some important vocabulary or ideas to help you structure your answer.

Here is what I would write:

  • raise money
  • preservation
  • donations
  • get involved

It is not important for you to understand this. Notes only need to be intelligible to the person who reads them, and in this case it will be me.

Sample Answer

There is one charity that is important to me above all others. It is called the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and I have given them money periodically since I was a small child.

All my life, I have been in love with the sea and the incredible animals that live there. When I was young, my mum and dad paid for a subscription to this charity, and so they would send me pictures and videos about whales. I loved the feeling of helping in some small way. Later, I would organisation charity events to raise money for them, and finally when I was an adult I would just set aside a small portion of my income to go to that charity.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is dedicated to the preservation of whales and dolphins, as its name suggests. It is a global charity but was founded in the UK. When I was young, I was fascinated by its work protecting whales off the western coast of Canada and the United States, but its work extends well beyond that because of the migratory nature of these animals.

They raise their money in different ways but rely heavily upon donations from people. They also let people adopt a whale or dolphin, which essentially means that they pay to follow that animal’s life and the money they give is used to fund its protection. This lets people feel that they are responsible for the creature’s welfare, giving them a more personal relationship.

I think that it is really important to give to charity or get involved in some way. Most people live selfish lives focused on their own well-being, but giving to others or helping animals is far more rewarding and ultimately helps to make the world a better place.  

Notes on the Answer

This answer followed the structure of the cue card because it seemed quite logical. As long as there is a logical flow of ideas, it is fine to do this, but you can also play around with the order if you prefer.

As for vocabulary, I have used some words and phrases that are generally good for charities:

  • given them money periodically
  • paid for a subscription
  • helping in some small way
  • organisation charity events
  • raise money
  • aside a small portion of my income
  • dedicated to the preservation of ___
  • founded in the UK
  • rely heavily upon donations
  • the money they give is used to ___
  • give to charity
  • get involved
  • make the world a better place

There is also some language specifically related to my favourite charity, though of course this will be different for each charity. Those that deal with homelessness, women’s issues, or climate change would have different language.

Ok, that’s all for this lesson. Hopefully you can use this language and advice to describe a charity that you really care about. Leave your description in the comment box if you want feedback on it.