Earlier this year I donated a carrier bag full of clothes and bric-a-brac to a local branch of the British Heart Foundation. I was running errands in my lunch and didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so when the nice lady behind the counter produced a form and asked me to fill it in, I scribbled my way through it.
It turns out that because I filled out the form, the British Heart Foundation was able to claim Gift Aid of 20 per cent on the value of my donations. How good is that? I have donated to charities via Gift Aid when visiting attractions and sponsoring friends for fundraising events, but I didn’t know that Gift Aid could also be claimed on the things I give to charity shops. The minute it took to fill out that form was time well spent. The lady behind the counter gave me a membership card so that next time, I can just drop and run.
A few weeks later, this came through the post:
It’s a letter from the British Heart Foundation, telling me how much my donations raised. Fifty quid for my old stuff. Who would have thought it?
I loved getting this letter: it is a simple touch, but one that makes me want to give again. Even though giving to charity is its own reward, it is satisfying to know just how much your unwanted items have raised for a good cause. Usually my donated items disappear into the charity shop abyss, which I am fine with, but I must admit that this letter gave me a warm glow.
Oh, and I should add: back in the shop when I was filling out the form, they asked me if I preferred to be contacted by post or email. I said post, because I hate my inbox filling up with spam and waffle. I didn’t know that the charity was going to send me such a personal letter though, so now I feel bad. I could have saved them the price of a stamp!
Are other charity shops doing this too? I know the British Heart Foundation is more of a well-oiled machine than my local hospice shops, but this is the first time I have come across the scheme. I suppose that with purse-strings tightening and donations to charity falling, the charities are doing all they can to get the most out of every donation and donor, from Gift Aid to membership cards. I don’t blame them.