Post-collection processes ranging from phone etiquette, thanking to pledge follow ups.
In order for your charity to claim 25% of donation amounts back from HMRC, you will need to register your charity with HMRC by following the steps here.
When you open this link, before you click the green “start now”, make sure you do the below steps first:
Be recognised as a charity for tax purposes.
Add charities online to your HMRC online account
Gift Aid Declarations
Once you are all set up with HMRC online, you will be able to start claiming gift aid on the donations you have received but ONLY if you have a valid gift aid declaration for each donor. There are many different ways to obtain these declarations from donors, for example:
On the giving envelopes (included in the template of envelopes in this toolkit). Donors can complete the Gift Aid section and then submit the envelope as part of the offering at Sunday Services or events.
Via email using the below wording which the donor should send back to you with their name and address included:
Please claim Gift Aid on my donations to [Entity/charity name]. This includes all donations for this year and the previous four years, plus any future donations, unless I notify you otherwise. I confirm that I am a UK tax payer and have paid or will pay sufficient Income or Capital Gains tax in each tax year to cover all the tax that will be reclaimed by all the charities or Community Amateur Sports Clubs to which I have made Gift Aid donations in any tax year covered by this declaration. I understand that I am responsible for paying any tax shortfall.
Name: [For donor to complete]
Home Address: [For donor to complete]
You can also set up a link on your giving website where the donor can click on a box when they want to declare gift aid when they are donating. This should be set up to send an automatic electronic form (via email) to your giving inbox when the donor has ticked the box which you can upload as the Gift Aid declaration on the donor’s record.
It is very important that you save all these gift aid declarations to the donor’s record so that you have evidence if HMRC does an audit on your gift aid claim. Technically, you are also allowed to obtain a verbal declaration from a donor but to be safe, if that does happen, make sure you have minutes of the meeting or phone conversation in which the declaration was stated.
Submitting The Claim
The frequency in which you submit your claim to HMRC will vary depending on the number of gifts your church receives. You can claim, for example, monthly, quarterly, twice a year or annually. If you want to claim more than once a year, each claim should be for at least £100.
Depending on the system you use, you should be able to pull a R68 report which is specifically for gift aid.
When you are logged on and submitting the claim online, there is an excel template which you can download. You will need to paste all the information relevant to the claim onto this template. Make sure that the source data is correct and that you paste the donations amount into the table (as that calculates how much gift aid you claim automatically). However, when you upload the template online, HMRC will analyse and exclude records with invalid entries – more often than not, it will be post code errors. You will then have to go and fix/edit that record and resubmit the template. For example, the post code might say NE6X7GD but it should have a space and should be corrected to NE6X 7GD.
Once HMRC is satisfied that your uploaded template is correct, it will allow you to submit after it makes you log in once again for security purposes.
One thing to note: On the template, there is a section where you can put in a Refund. This would arise if you have previously claimed gift aid (and been paid out for it by HMRC) for a donation by, for example, Joe Bloggs, but subsequently you realise you do not have a valid gift aid declaration for him or he tells you that he was not earning sufficient income for a period of time to be able to cover any shortfall of tax. In the refund box on the claim, you would need to put the TAX amount (not donation amount like the rest of the claim) for the donations over the period when we was not qualified for Gift Aid. Make sure you provide a detailed explanation for this refund (in one of the last stages of the claim, it gives you the option).
One-off gift <£1k: Email from Vicar.
If no email address, only send a letter if the gift is above £50.
One-off gift >£1k: Letter from Vicar.
On letterhead, physically signed by the vicar and posted to donor.
New/Increased recurring gift <£10k per year: Email from Vicar.
If no email address, only send a letter if the totalled gift per year is above £50.
New/Increased recurring gift >£10k per year: Letter from Vicar.
Change in recurring gift method (no overall increase): Email acknowledgement from Giving Team.
One-off gift in addition to recurring gift: See rules for one-off gifts above, same applies.
Pledges: Same guidelines as for one off gifts above for initial pledge made by donor.
When pledge is fulfilled, we only thank if fulfilled after 3 months of the initial pledge. (I.e. if donor fulfils pledge quickly within 3 months, we don’t need to send another thank you).
Recurring gift: If gift given in 3 consecutive months.
Deadline for thanking: Friday of week after the Sunday giving.
Gift Day thanking: Same as above but with bespoke Gift Day email/letter to be agreed by Fundraising/Vicar's Office.
Sometimes, if donors feel inspired to give (at an event, service etc,.) but they do not have cash/card on them, they can make a “pledge”. It is advisable to record these pledges on your system (or at the very least, keep a spreadsheet of all the donors and amounts they have pledged).
Pledges should be followed up at the end of the week (or alternatively just after they have pledged to fulfil it if they have given a date). Suggested wording for the follow up email is downloadable here.
Pledge Email Follow-up - Example Template
Failed Credit Card Follow-up
You might also need to follow up on failed credit cards when the donor has given you their credit card details to run but the transaction failed for some reason (for example, we misread the card numbers or they have insufficient funds). Suggested wording for the follow up email is downloadable here.
Failed Credit Card Email Follow-up - Example Template
Phone Call Etiquette
Always identify yourself at the beginning of all calls.
Always answer a telephone by saying: “Hello/Good Morning, Organisation, Department, Your Name speaking.”
Do not answer by using words such as “yeah” or “yes.”
When making a call, always state your name along with the name of the person you are requesting for. For example: “Hello, my name is John Doe from XYZ organisation. May I please speak with Ms. Jane Smith?”
Be sensitive to the tone of your voice. Do not sound overly anxious, aggressive or pushy. It is important your tone conveys authority and confidence. Do not lean back in your chair when speaking on the telephone.
Tip: Sit up right in your chair or stand during the conversation
Think through exactly what you plan to say and discuss before you make a call.
Tip: Jot down the items you want to discuss and questions you want answered. In other words, anticipate and expect you will be placed into a voicemail system; plan your message to be as direct and specific as possible, asking the person to respond to specific alternatives or questions. Do not say, “Hello, it’s John, call me back.”At least state the subject about which you want the person to call you back about.
Do not allow interruptions to occur during conversations. Do not carry on side conversations with other people around you. The person on the telephone takes precedence over someone who happens to walk in your office or passes by while you are on the phone.
Tip: If you must interrupt the conversation, say to the person, “Please excuse me for a moment I’ll be right back.” And when you return, say, “Thank you for holding.”
Especially when leaving messages, speak clearly and slowly. Do not use broken phrases, slang or idioms. Always, always leave your return telephone number as part of your message, including the area code . . . and S-L-O-W-L-Y, including REPEATING your telephone number at the end of your message.
Tip: Practice leaving your number, by saying it aloud to yourself as slow as you have heard an informational operator say it.
If you are expecting an important call, inform the caller you will be in a meeting during certain times and state you will monitor your message indicator for when it illuminates you will excuse yourself to leave the meeting and return the call.
Always speak into the telephone receiver with an even and low tone of voice.
Tip: Move the phone ear piece just slightly away from your ear and listen to yourself speaking. Discover whether you are speaking too loudly or too quietly for the other person to hear you.
Do not allow yourself to be distracted by other activities while speaking on the telephone, such as rustling papers, chewing and eating, working on the computer, or speaking with someone else.
Tip: Always treat every caller with the utmost courtesy and respect by giving him/her your undivided attention.
Speak clearly. A picture paints a thousand words but the caller on the other end of the phone can only hear you. They cannot see your face or body language. Therefore, taking the time to speak clearly, slowly and in a cheerful, professional voice is very important.
Use your normal tone of voice when answering a call. If you have a tendency to speak loud or shout, avoid doing so on the telephone.
Do not eat or drink while you are on telephone duty. Only eat or drink during your coffee break or lunch break.
Do not use slang words or Poor Language. Respond clearly with “yes” or “no” when speaking. Never use swear words.
Address the Caller Properly by his or her title. (i.e. Good morning Mr. Brown, Good afternoon Ms. Sanders). Never address an unfamiliar caller by his or her first name.
Listen to the Caller and what they have to say. The ability to listen is a problem in general but it is very important to listen to what the caller has to say. It is always a good habit to repeat the information back to the client when you are taking a message. Verify that you have heard and transcribed the message accurately.
Be patient and helpful. If a caller is irate or upset, listen to what they have to say and then refer them to the appropriate resource. Never snap back or act rude to the caller.
Always ask if you can put the caller on hold. If you are responsible for answering multiple calls at once, always ask the caller politely if you may put them on hold. Remember that the caller could have already waited several minutes before getting connected to you and may not take lightly to being put on hold. Never leave the person on hold for more than a few seconds or they may become upset and hang up.
Always focus on the call. Try not to get distracted by people around you. If someone tries to interrupt you while you are on a call, politely remind them that you are on a customer call and that you will be with them as soon as you are finished.
Always identify yourself properly. When calling a client or customer, whether in person or when leaving a message, always identify yourself properly by providing your name, company name and contact telephone number. For example, "Good afternoon Mr. Brown, this is Ms. Brown from Officeskills.org. My telephone number is 0207 052 0200." Always be aware of confidential information when leaving messages. Also, be aware of people around you while talking on the phone. Be discreet! Someone next to you might overhear confidential information that could negatively affect your business.
Avoid leaving long winded messages. Remember, someone has to listen to your message, write it down and then act upon it. Your message may be just one of many messages that need to be handled. It is often a good habit to write down or type out your message in advance. Keep it brief and to the point.