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According to HMRC, more than 50,000 charities have now signed up to the Charities Online service. Since the service was launched in April 2013, charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) have benefitted from over £380 million in gift aid payments. Whilst some of this would have been available under the old system, by automating payments HMRC have managed reduced turn-around times from twenty-nine days to nine and made it simpler for charities to claim the payments due.
Commenting on the Charities Online initiative, Caroline Taylor, director of children’s charity Toybox said that “We estimate that Charities Online has reduced the time it takes us to process these repayments by around 25 per cent” adding “Our experience of processing Gift Aid claims through HMRC Online has been very positive.”
HMRC say that they receive some 187,000 gift aid claims each year, representing 23 million individual donations. The biggest claim made so far from a single charity is £3.7m. With Charities Online delivering cost and time savings for charities and CASCs as well as resulting in faster payment times, those charities which have already signed up to the system now have the opportunity to maximise their gift aid potential.
For some charities this may require a re-evaluation of employee engagement in order to help employees and volunteers to open up dialogue with visitors and donors. Employees and volunteers with increased levels of engagement are far more open and positive about their organisation and far more willing to engage potential donors in discussion. Not only that, they also act as brand ambassadors for the charity, helping to promote a positive image.
In Charities Online, HMRC have paved the way. Now it is up to charities to make the most of the opportunities available and increased levels of employee engagement are only going to help.