Now is the time to start looking for ways to maximise returns from the technology you have already invested in. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, in 2007 there was an estimated £700m of unclaimed Gift Aid. Was any of that yours?
On the face of it, Gift Aid is simple. But one reason so much of it is unclaimed is that, once you take into account all the variables and the more obscure rules that surround Gift Aid, it is notoriously complicated to administer, and the penalties for getting it wrong are severe.
From a technological point of view, it is usually more than just a case of pressing a button and waiting for the money to arrive - unless your system is specifically set up to deal with Gift Aid.
In order to establish whether you can claim back any tax, you have to evaluate each gift according to a number of criteria. And to add to the confusion, gifts that were not eligible for Gift Aid last year might be eligible now, often because donors have made Gift Aid declarations in the meantime.
The problem is often a skills gap: you need an understanding of the rules of the Gift Aid scheme - which you can get from the HM Revenue & Customs website - and you need to know how to drive your database so that you can identify the eligible gifts.
In order to do this, you might need the help of a database specialist. And you must ensure you have a copy of the Gift Aid declaration or confirmation letter for every gift on which you have claimed back tax.
Unless the Government chooses to convert unclaimed Gift Aid into a bailout fund for charities, it will remain your responsibility to claim your slice.
- Robin Fisk is a senior charity technology specialist at ASI Europe.