Why, oh why?

by | May 12, 2015

For some years now there has been a figure floating around, one I’ve used before and has not been updated but still mystifies me.

£750 million in Gift Aid goes unclaimed by charities – each and every year.

I’ve recently carried out two Gift Aid projects and made sure my clients have claimed as much as possible, but here’s the rub: when I broach the subject of Gift Aid with other clients (or prospective clients), I usually get a curt response “We’re fine, everything’s in order. We’re claiming everything we can.”

I know for certain that it’s not just my two clients that were remiss in their claiming; their back claims account for a tiny fraction of these unaccounted millions. Does this hint at a more fundamental issue? Do other organisations regularly challenge what they claim and what they can’t?

It would be wrong of me to hypothetically beat people over the head with a stick worth £750 million, but I’d suggest that most organisations don’t take a critical eye to what they are claiming. This annoys me. I’m a donor too, and I deserve to know that you are doing everything you can to use my money in the most efficient way. And that includes maximising its value by claiming Gift Aid.

I suspect that most organisations are claiming to an amount i.e. they usually claim £5,000 so as long as the next claim is £5,000 they are happy. But this is where the problem is. During the year income fluctuates which is why phasing appeal income is so hard. Why then are your Gift Aid claim amounts the same each time? A claim made in February should be significantly higher, taking into account the increase in donations over Christmas, but no, it’s £5,000; Again. A massive emergency appeal; £5,000. Again.

It’s bewildering that no one seems to see the problem.

At this point I have to take to task the Individual Giving Managers or whoever is responsible for overseeing the claims. You’re responsible for this income – challenge it. If the amount is roughly the same each time you make a claim, then you need to understand why, ask questions, look at the database, review declarations.

I can’t imagine any organisation, regardless of size, would turn down a piece of this £750 million pie. So next time I ask if you’re OK for Gift Aid maybe, just maybe, you might think twice before saying OK.

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