Voluntary sector umbrella bodies in the UK have called on the government to scrap elements of the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) they say will make the scheme difficult for small charities to use. The GASDS is intended to allow charities to claim Gift Aid-like payments on up to £5,000 of small cash donations a year, without accompanying Gift Aid forms. It would therefore reduce the administrative burdens on small charities. HM Revenue & Customs said it expected the scheme to be used largely by small charities making bucket collections and religious organizations taking collections.
However, two parts of the proposed legislation are particularly exercising voluntary sector representatives. First, there is the so-called ‘matching’ element – to claim the full £1,250, charities must have claimed at least £625 of Gift Aid in the same year. Second, charities can only claim if they have claimed Gift Aid in three of the past seven years, and have a good track record with HM Revenue & Customs. New organizations, therefore, will be unable to make use of the scheme.
As long ago as June, when the proposal was first mooted, Hannah Terrey, head of policy at the Charities Aid Foundation, pointed out that many smaller charities did not claim Gift Aid because of the complexity of the system. They, too, will not be eligible to use the scheme. She added that the scheme would be difficult to use and was ‘unlikely to have a major impact on charity fundraising, particularly for small charities’. According to the Institute of Fundraising, the proposals ‘seem overly complex and controls seem disproportionate to the amount of money that might be claimed by charities’.
Third Sector Online, 9 May 2012, 21 June 2012, 21 August 2012