The role of the Inland Revenue in the administration of gift aid could be hindering charities' attempts to promote tax-efficient giving because of the public's negative perception of the 'tax man'.
Several charities are now insisting that the Government should mount a national campaign to combat the problem, according to new research by voluntary sector think tank nfpSynergy into charities' attitudes to gift aid.
"People hear the words 'Inland Revenue' and immediately think the worst," one charity told the researchers. "A Government campaign advertising gift aid would be of great assistance to charities."
However, the report, Looking a gift-aid horse in the mouth, also reveals that charities themselves do not do enough to convert their supporters to tax-efficient giving.
Of the 136 charities surveyed, only a third had converted more than half their donors to gift aid, despite the fact that 93 per cent said that the scheme has made it easier to make supporters' gifts tax-efficient.
According to the report, charities have been unadventurous in their efforts to promote gift aid, which allows them to reclaim basic tax of 28p for every £1 donated by UK tax payers when the donor consents. The majority have stuck to sending mail packs to existing donors. However, when charities have tried alternatives such as street fundraising, these have generally been successful.
"Charities aren't doing enough to promote gift aid - it's a great opportunity and they aren't making the most of it," said Alexandra Denye, one of the report's authors. "Until charities do more, it is not up to the Government to run a campaign promoting gift aid."
Denye added that she didn't think charities were trying to pass the buck by calling on the Government to launch a campaign, just that not all of them had tackled the issue themselves.