Gift Aid is one of the greatest sources of revenue for all charities, acknowledging the fact that donors have already paid basic-rate income tax on their earnings and allowing the charity to claim back the difference. However, a large proportion of all charities aren’t claiming any Gift Aid at all.
There’s clearly more that can be done, but what are the best ways?
1. Consult an expert
The benefits of consulting an expert on Gift Aid aren’t mainly related to clarifying the system’s structure so much as evaluating how Gift Aid could work best for you. If you’re relying on retail sales to raise funds, bringing in an experienced professional might reveal new ways of collecting and processing information which could have a significant impact for your charity.
2. Use social media properly
1.55 billion people were using Facebook alone by the end of 2015, with a further 316,000 on Twitter and well over two billion across other social networks. Use social media feeds to keep donors and potential donors up to date on projects, campaigns and successes.
3. Make the most of HMRC’s Charities Online
HMRC Charities Online is designed to speed up the claims process, allowing charities to receive payment within 15 working days of filing a claim on up to 1,000 donations at a time. To simplify the process of claiming on larger volumes of donations, charities can use their own databases to submit claims, getting repayments quicker. There’s also no restriction on the number of claims that can be made at one time through a database linked to Charities Online, but charities will need compatible software.
4. Make sure your website works for you
An effective charity website is all about clarity and engagement; donors need to know your mission, feel its urgency and understand how their donation will help the situation. Most importantly, donors need to feel their power to make a difference. Explain both the issue on which your work focuses, and the way in which you use to use donor’s money to make a difference. List your recent achievements to give donors a sense of the progress you’re making, and include some visual stimulus: let donors see the people they’re helping, the projects they’re sponsoring.
5. Find a purpose-built IT solution
In recent years a number of systems for easing the processing of Gift Aid for retail charities have emerged, a lot of which are adapted from the commercial sector and are unnecessarily expensive and complicated for a charity’s needs. Some experienced IT service providers have developed Gift Aid networked EPOS solutions which can essentially outsource the Gift Aid process, allowing you to focus on your core mission.
6. Mention Gift Aid in emails and newsletters
Public understanding of Gift Aid is surprisingly low and misconceptions are common. The simple tactic of including a mention of Gift Aid in all email signatures, with a link to a proper explanation, can have a big impact on the amount that can be claimed by the end of the year.
7. Train volunteers to handle Gift Aid
A large proportion of volunteers don’t receive any training in the use of Gift Aid, but making certain that all of staff are properly trained helps ensure that you have all of the information you need to make a claim the moment a purchase is made.
Alastair Petrie is General Manager of BMc Azurri, a company specialising in the provision of Gift Aid systems and IT services for the charity sector.
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