• Rethinking Charity Gift Aid; three areas for immediate action

Rethinking Charity Gift Aid; three areas for immediate action

02 March 2021

Rethinking how your charity shops manage Retail Gift Aid will enhance customer experiences and grow this valuable source of income. Find out what you need to do.

As you prepare to reopen your shops, now is a good time to reflect on your existing retail Gift Aid processes and how these can be adapted and improved to improve the customer experience and grow much needed revenue.

While COVID-19 will have driven enormous change in shops, the key principle of successful operation of Retail Gift Aid remains the same. It is imperative that charities are able to track the journey of donated goods through the retail process, from first contact with the donor through to the shop floor and sale. Charities which operate Retail Gift Aid successfully have robust processes in place to support staff and volunteers with each step of the process.

Some people forced to stay at home for extended periods have used the time to clear their homes of unwanted goods and clothes. There is a potential for large increase in the volume of donations. This, combined with any remaining social distancing restrictions, will stress any inadequate Gift Aid processes.  

Adapting the Charity Gift Aid process

We have set out the questions below to help you rethink and adapt your Gift Aid processes for your shops;

Interacting with donors

  • How will staff and volunteers discuss the opportunity to make a Gift Aid declaration while ensuring that everyone feels safe and social distancing rules are observed?
  • How will the sign up process need to be adapted to accommodate social distancing? Use of paper forms and pens will need to be carefully considered and tablets are also likely to be difficult to manage. Could donors use their own devices to make their declaration, linking from a QR code, for example?
  • While technology may be a solution to some challenges, how will you ensure the donation process is accessible to all?
  • Many shops are implementing appointments for dropping off goods. How will this affect the Gift Aid ask? Could it be done online or over the phone as part of the appointment process? If not, will appointments leave time for a conversation about Gift Aid?

Managing the process

  • How will your shops respond if there is a large influx of donations? Are there appropriate locations to store and quarantine large volumes of donations?
  • How will you track the donor reference from donation to sale in circumstances where items must be quarantined before they can be labelled?

New ways of selling

  • Many charities are exploring new ways of selling and online sales are increasing both through public platforms like ebay and through their own websites. Could this increase the value of your sales by opening up items to a wider range of purchasers?
  • How will online sales be coordinated? On a shop by shop basis, or centrally? Do reporting processes allow for this?
  • How will your agency agreement and commission rates charged to donors accommodate online sales fees? Do the agreements need to be updated?
  • Selling through online platforms can trigger new requirements in relation to VAT and cross-border sales requirements if purchasers are overseas. Is your organisation considering these at the right stage so that there are no surprises on implementation?

What can you do now to ensure your Charity’s Gift Aid process remains efficient?

The realities of the ‘new reality’ are still emerging, it will be important that shops implement any required changes as soon as possible in order rebuild Gift Aid income. Some changes may take more time to implement so early planning will be important.

We can help you review and improve your Charity Gift Aid processes and we would be pleased to discuss your processes and approach. Please contact your BDO charity adviser or contact us for an initial no obligations discussion.