|Diocesan Gift Aid Coordinator, Sue Rickard and St Paul's Head, Rob Carter|
Peter Burholt reports:
Despite the gloom and doom of a recession, the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton came up trumps and made donations in the last 12 months, resulting in £1.45m being reclaimed in tax rebates from the Treasury. Sue Rickard, the Diocesan Gift Aid Coordinator, said “This is truly a remarkable achievement. It never fails to amaze me how our Diocese maintains its generosity, even in difficult financial times like these. With 25,515 members in the scheme, we achieved an average of nearly £60 per member in tax rebates – and just to think, these funds go to an extremely wide range of uses in our schools and parishes.”
This great news was given at the 46th Gift Aid Annual General Meeting at the end of April at St Paul’s College, Burgess Hill. Over 100 organisers attended the session, which was preceded earlier in the day by a seminar on the workings of GiftWise, the Diocese’s online recording system.
Welcoming the delegates to the AGM, Financial Secretary Fergus Brotherton warmly thanked everyone for the way in which Gift Aid was so successfully managed by both the organisers and his own team at Bishop’s House. “We continue to be one of the leaders in England and Wales in developing the way in which Gift Aid is administered.”
One of the three Diocesan auditors, David Goodge, addressed the group on the importance of keeping records in a way that HM Revenue find acceptable. David covered some basic subjects as “When does the tax year start?” “Getting the figures to add up when using a manual system” and “Confidentiality and the Data Protection Act”. These subjects may be taken for granted, but David reported that one would be surprised at what we occasionally pick up in our audits.
Ian Dallas, another member of the “gang of three” auditors and who is deeply involved in the GiftWise scheme, gave a review of the ins-and-outs of the system and encouraged everyone who does not use GiftWise to get on board. “As you will have heard at previous AGMs what a difference it makes, not least of all it can improve both parish and school cash flows” he encouraged.
Sue Rickard, in her opening remarks, wanted to focus this year on schools “While there have been great success stories with schools benefitting from Gift Aid rebates, the reality is that there are many who are not in the scheme and missing out on easy-to-get income.” The AGM’s venue was used as a wonderful example of how Gift Aid has had a material effect on the pupils at St Paul’s College. From the outset of its move to Burgess Hill, the College set up a Gift Aid scheme which collected donations to enable every pupil to have a laptop for all their schoolwork. “Not everyone could afford to make these donations, but the good news story is those pupils who come from less well off families are given laptops for free - as a direct result of the rebates we get from HM Revenue. We certainly could not afford to do this without the support of these rebates” reflected Head Teacher, Rob Carter (see picture of Rob with Sue Rickard at the AGM).
To reinforce the message on schools, Dee Simpson shared her experience of how to make Gift Aid work for schools. Dee’s enthusiastic description of her recent start as a school organiser and the way in which she promoted the scheme left many of the delegates thinking about the possibilities of their own places. What results would the Diocese get if Dee’s enthusiasm could be bottled and sent to every school and parish?
The afternoon ended on a high note, with Mass being concelebrated by Bishop
Kieran and Fr Rick McGrath from Burgess Hill. Bishop Kieran reminded the delegates of his recent call for hope. “Your work in Gift Aid enables all sorts of people to hope - you have my sincere thanks for all that you do for the Diocese”.
Words and picture: Peter Burholt