Charities urged to switch to email for charity shop Gift Aid declarations

Charity Retail Association says using it instead of the post could save charities thousands

Charities should contact donors by email
Charities should contact donors by email

Charities could save thousands of pounds by using email instead of post when corresponding with donors about Gift Aid on items sold in charity shops, according to the Charity Retail Association.

Isabelle Adam, project and policy offer for the association, told Third Sector she believed more charities had started using email rather than using post.

Once a donated item is sold in a charity shop, the charity must get in touch in writing with the donor and ask for permission to reclaim the Gift Aid on the amount the item is sold for.

Adam said that this was usually worded in such a way that if the shop did not hear back from the donor in a reasonable period of time, it would assume the answer was that they wanted the Gift Aid to be claimed.

"The administration costs of putting a stamp on a letter can be big," she said. "Contacting donors by email instead could save charities thousands and thousands of pounds."

People were less likely to change their email addresses, she said, than they were to move house, which would again help charities with administration.

A spokeswoman for the British Heart Foundation said it had been contacting donors about Gift Aid declarations by email since October.

"We are encouraging all of our donors to supply us with their email addresses to contact them in this way because it keeps administration costs down," she said.

In April, she said, nearly 10 per cent of Gift Aid notifications were sent by email.

Julie Beames, retail business development manager for Sue Ryder, said the charity corresponded with donors about Gift Aid only by post.

She said its shops had been able to use email themselves only for about 18 months and there was still a lot of work to be done in collecting the email addresses of its donors.

"We’re looking at working towards it, but to prompt us to go down that road we’d need more email addresses from our clients," she said.

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