Government philanthropy ambassador hears 'golden rules' of charitable giving

Fundraising experts tell Dame Stephanie Shirley that Gift Aid and businesses must change if giving is to increase

Dame Stephanie Shirley
Dame Stephanie Shirley

Gift Aid needs to be reformed and businesses have to change their culture if everyday giving is to become the norm in the UK, the Government's philanthropy ambassador, Dame Stephanie Shirley, has been told.

These messages were given to her by Nick Butt, head of cause-related marketplaces at eBay, and Nick Aldridge, chief executive of MissionFish, which runs the website's charitable arm.

Dame Stephanie, who was appointed in June, approached the two organisations in order to discover the "golden rules" that have made MissionFish successful, Aldridge told Third Sector. It has raised nearly £1m for various causes since it was launched last November.

Aldridge said Dame Stephanie had been told giving should be seen as "part of the business mix", not simply as a bolt-on to a company's operation. Corporate responsibility programmes should be at the core of relationships with customers, he said.

The pair had also suggested a drive to target businesses that people encounter every day, such as banks, restaurants and online shops, he said.

But Aldridge also warned Dame Stephanie that if companies gave any benefits to customers who made donations, the charities involved might not be eligible for Gift Aid under HM Revenue & Customs rules.

This had been a problem for eBay when it agreed to waive its fees for people who made donations, he said. In the end, HMRC had decided this was not an issue it wished to pursue.

"But any sort of reward for customers supporting good causes could fall foul of the rules and prevent benefit through Gift Aid," said Aldridge.

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