Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Gift Aid provides windfall for C of E

DONATIONS to Church of England parishes have more than doubled over the past 30 years despite a fall in attendance of more than a quarter, research by the charity publishing company Civil Society has found.

The organisation says that the increase is the result of organised campaigns promoting tax-efficient giving, such as Gift Aid; andsays that £212 million of the addi-tional £217 million given to churches was given in a tax-efficient way.

"The Churches pioneered the idea of regular weekly or monthly gifts - the practice goes back to biblical times 2000 years ago," said Ian Clark, a fellow of the Institute of Fundraising, who serves as a consultant to Civil Society.

"As wage and salary payments changed, they adapted as weekly envelopes were replaced by bank standing orders and direct debits. The tax reliefs provided by Gift Aid certainly motivated many more donors to switch from casual to committed giving, thus helping to both grow and stabilise the Church's income."

Civil Society says that eight per cent of total Gift Aid claims are made by C-of-E-related charities- most of them local parishes;and that this amounts to a com-bined windfall of £80 million each year.

The research was published in response to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in November that warned that the Govern-ment could not demonstrate that "the increased cost to the taxpayer" of the Gift Aid scheme "has re-sulted in a rise in donations to charity".

The NAO said that the Government "should collect better evidence on the impact of reliefs on donor behaviour and should work with the charitable sector and academics to obtain this".

"The Church of England has a fine tradition of encouraging generosity from individuals in response to God's overwhelm-ing generosity to us," a C of E spokesperson said. "In 2011, there was an increase in parish-givingof nearly £20 million, reaching£916 million. The Church ofEngland was able to claim £83 million in Gift Aid for that year."

The spokesperson said that donations to parishes accounted for "nearly two-thirds of the Church of England's giving", and that "Gift Aid remains a vital income-source for parishes, significantly increasing the resources that are available for the mission and ministry of the Church."

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