How can charities make the most of our urge to Spring clean at this time of year?
Halfway through March, we run into National Spring Cleaning Week. Starting on 14 March, this week embodies a tradition which goes back well over two millennia and has never really faded from our culture. Across the country people will be looking at all of their household clutter with a discerning eye, working out what stays and what needs to go. As a charity, you’ll want to make sure that as much as possible of what does get dragged out of the house in the name of tidiness ultimately winds up in your shop.
Make sure people remember you when they’re spring cleaning
Almost everyone would be happier for their unwanted goods to go to charity than to landfill or recycling, and ensuring that the option of donating is at the forefront of people’s minds at this time of year. Reach out through social media to strengthen that association between spring cleaning and charitable giving, and in store through your volunteers and window posters.
Mentioning specific goods can be a powerful way to inspire donations, as people are reminded of exactly what they have at home and what they might be happier to donate than to hang onto.
Ensure that Gift Aid declarations are recorded for every donation
Gift Aid is a tax-effective way of giving which a surprising proportion of the population either aren’t aware of or don’t fully understand. Charities can reclaim the base rate of income tax on any goods which are declared as Gift Aid, at no additional cost to the donor. With 25p in the pound in free additional revenue available from HMRC, it’s critical to ensure that donors declare their approval that Gift Aid be claimed.
Mentioning Gift Aid in all emails and newsletters is a great way to raise awareness, and training staff to ask about Gift Aid as early in the process as possible ensures that those critical Gift Aid declarations can be recorded the moment a donation is received.
Two stores in the Age UK and RSPCA networks experienced an extremely impressive increase in Gift Aid returns of 400% after their volunteers received training in Gift Aid early last year.
Chase all sources of Gift Aid
Often higher-value items such as furniture become redundant during spring cleaning as people look to overhaul their interiors. Gift Aid often isn’t applied to these donations, which can result in substantial missed revenue as these items typically carry a higher value at resale.
Volunteers should be trained to ask for Gift Aid approval during the original discussion with the donor, as Gift Aid forms require only a name, partial address, postcode and date to be valid.
Better practices in furniture collection can represent a second line for ensuring Gift Aid claims are possible, and may work better for some donors. These can be as simple as equipping collection drivers with completed Gift Aid forms ready for approval, combined with duplicate labels for attaching to the paperwork and donated items to ensure they remain clearly linked.
Spring Cleaning Week is the perfect opportunity for a charity to increase their stock, strengthen their relationship with the community and ultimately boost their overall revenue. Ensuring that Gift Aid is applied to all donations is absolutely critical, and the process can be simplified by applying automated IT solutions for Gift Aid management. Some such services are available as shared ventures, which can eliminate the need for upfront tech investment.
Whatever you do to take advantage of Spring Cleaning Week, make sure you’re not missing out on that 25% top-up from the taxman: Gift Aid donations totalled £1.9bn in 2014/15, and using the system properly can have a truly enormous impact on your bottom line and, ultimately, the people you work to help.
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.
Main image: Spring cleaning by Razumov2 on Shutterstock.com
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