Tom Latchford is chief executive of Raising IT discusses how Charity donation should be as easy as ordering from Amazon in this interesting article that looks at Gift Aid in the Guardian. We at VoulnteerKinetic like Tom’s take on the use of the Amazon business model and what we in the voluntary sector should be learning from these internet giants.
We want to know what your experiences have been using “the web” as a voluntary organisation. Has your experience been positive or not. How can we make using the internet less challenging. VolunteerKinetic have worked tirelessly on their own internet based Volunteer Management web site. Although we are very proud of our effort we are really keen to know what people are looking for from the internet.
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The confusing process of claiming Gift Aid hinders the often spontaneous nature of text donations and online giving
Impulse donations have to be quick. A pound in the bucket is easier than a lengthy chat with a clipboard-wielding rep on the street – and the same principle applies to giving via charities’ digital channels.
This is why the cumbersome and confusing process of claiming Gift Aid hinders the often spontaneous nature of text donations and online giving. Any attempts to simplify the path to donation must be welcomed.
So it’s promising that the Treasury’s new consultation, Gift Aid and Digital Giving, recognises that advancements in technology, which are boosting charity fundraising campaigns, are being maimed by antiquated Gift Aid processes.
But the Treasury must go beyond recognising the problems. They must resolve them. The danger is that this promising but piecemeal paper will distract from what should be the highest priority right now: properly implementing the two biggest changes in Gift Aid – online returns and the small donations scheme.
Bringing Gift Aid online has not been without its complications so far, and the Government could be doing more to assist technology companies helping charities transition to the new system by September.
The small donations scheme is a wonderful idea but, in this case, small has not meant simple. The entry-level guidance for this was 20 pages long in explaining the scheme. The key to success of Gift Aid reform is layman simplicity. The proposals to cut the declaration by half is welcomed, although not radical.
For radical we just need to see how defective our tax incentives are in comparison to the US. To seriously boost the giving economy in the UK, we need to seriously shake things up, and this paper is too bland for that, but it could still save millions by streamlining the system.
Simplifying the process for staff, not just supporters, is the crux of this. I have watched conscientious smaller charities, fearfully checking the eligibility of donors for Gift Aid, spending salaried time on administration around it.
Sensible steps to simplify the user experience for Gift Aid declarations are important. We should focus on the donations funnel and making this as short, simple and smooth as possible. It’s amazing how easy it is to put someone off giving by asking people for too much detail.
We need to aspire to making the donation experience as painless as ordering from Amazon. For one-click payments, storing Gift Aid status against a donor is critical, whereas other suggestions like a central declaration database seem too far-fetched.
Gift Aid is seen as a huge incentive to boost giving, but Raising IT carried out a simple online experiment, where we removed Gift Aid declarations from a donation form, hence simplifying it, and saw an increase in donations. Gift Aid simply cannot continue to be a barrier to online giving.
JustGiving took advantage of the public’s ignorance of Gift Aid, and to many it seemed they could magically make more money from your donation. There is still plenty to be done to educate people about Gift Aid.
The government is essentially offering circa £15m in tax relief through these proposals, so it’s vital that the sector as a whole provides full and frank feedback to the consultation. Without a full and forthright response, it may be another two decades before donations reach the top of its agenda again.
Tom Latchford is chief executive of Raising IT.