FUNDRAISING NEWS: Boateng seeks ideas to simplify Gift Aid system

Chief secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng has challenged the sector to come up with a simpler formula for Gift Aid.

Speaking at the Giving Campaign's "Future of Giving" debate last Wednesday, Boateng responded to criticism that the Government isn't doing enough to encourage people to increase their levels of tax-efficient giving.

"I think we've made it as simple as we possibly can," he said. "If anyone can come forward with an idea then I'd be very interested to hear it," said Boateng.

However, Bridget Roe, charity director at ShareGift, said that the Government still hasn't recognised a significant gap in the public's understanding of Gift Aid.

"I'm afraid that many of the donors I've talked to didn't know if they were taxpayers or not," she said. "It may be that you need to take one step away and look at educating people, particularly pensioners about this. The spirit was there, but many didn't know if they could say yes or not when we asked them the question."

Theresa Lloyd, staff director at Philantrophy UK, answered the minister's challenge by stating that the Government should consider switching Gift Aid so that it directly benefits the donor.

"For charities there are expenses attached to Gift Aid such as promotional materials, whereas if it was the donor that got the tax relief it would be much simpler to explain and therefore administer."

Other participants challenged the minister over the limits of the Gift Aid mechanism.

"It isn't always easy for individuals to give in a way that enables them to use tax-reliefs," said Cathy Pharoah, director of research at Charities Aid Foundation. "Many people are giving at local schools or at car boot sales so I'd like to see a way in which community gifts could attract tax-relief because I think a lot of people prefer to give this way and we need to match ideas on this."

But Peter Gilheany, director of communications at the Giving Campaign, said it was also up to charities to make the process as simple as possible.

"Charities have a responsibility to maximise their income through fundraising, and Gift Aid is an obvious way to do this," he said.

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