Sector Development, Research, Statistics

The collecting, sharing and use of data to improve performance across voluntary organisations is on Knowledge and data sharing page.

See Research Resources for help with doing your own research.


NB. This section was previously a separate page, with data put together when sector stats were hard to find on the web.

Scoping the sector is a developing field. There is no single definitive source, or a definitive definition of what the voluntary sector covers (see Glossary for some suggestions).

For instance, ‘registered charities’ will not cover all the small community organisations which aren’t registered in any way, or not-for-profits which don’t fall within the charitable definition (e.g. because their primary aim includes campaigning).

Key sources of charity statistics


Specific topics, regions

  • Sector bodies in English regions, and counties, have undertaken a variety of studies. See Local contacts for where to go to find out latest position.

Sector Development

RSA Project 2001 This ran pilot projects in Yorkshire and London, supporting voluntary organisations “in providing a quality learning experience for volunteers, committee members and staff”. The resulting report Making it Work – Learning and Accreditation in the Voluntary Sector, (Mar 01) costs £5 including p&p from 020 7451 6833.

Research Bodies, Think Tanks

  • ARVAC (Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector) aims to increase effectiveness through research, and provide researchers with a supportive network. Acts as a resource for people interested in research in or on community organisations.
  • CAF Research Programme Has Charity Trends website, with research and analysis of data on the sector. This includes: payroll giving, gift aid, income from central government and health authorities, trends in individual giving, local/community income. Free printed copies from CAF Research, phone 01732 520125, email: research@caf.charitynet.orgCAF does/supports various other research. Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4TA, phone 01732 520000.
  • Voluntary Action Research Group at Sheffield Hallam University. Undertakes contract research for organisations.
  • Civil Exchange “is a think tank that exists to help government and the voluntary sector work better together”.
  • DANGO (Database of Archives of Non-Governmental Organisations) was tackling the availability of records relating to non-governmental organisations and pressure groups active in the UK since 1945, to help assess the impact of such bodies on society. Ended 2007 – see NGOs in Britain below.
  • EMES European Network studies third sector, social enterprises etc.
  • European Research Network on Philanthropy.
  • The Evidence Library has been set up by Scottish umbrella body SCVO to “provide a resource for discovering new research, finding out the latest facts and figures and stimulating ideas”.
  • The Galileo Group (not the international investment company) is an independent scholarly community of academics and practitioners whose main interest is to explore the way in which theories can be developed and applied to problems of organisation and management in the voluntary sector.
  • HistPhil is a web publication on the history of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, with a particular emphasis on how history can shed light on contemporary philanthropic issues and practice.
  • Institute for Jewish Policy Research has undertaken studies on governance, resources etc. within the jewish voluntary sector.
  • Institute for Voluntary Action Research, developed out of Aston Centre for Voluntary Action Research, Aston Business School.
  • Institute for Volunteering Research.
  • nfpSynergy, a commercial business, aims to “provide ideas, insights and information to help not for profit organisations thrive in a changing world.”
  • NGOS in Britain (Non-Governmental Organisations UK 1945-1997) project ran from 2008 to 2011. At Centre for Modern and Contemporary History.
  • Third Sector Research Centre (government/ESRC funded 2008-14).
  • The Royal Irish Academy did have a Third Sector Research Programme but no sign on the website from spring 2013.
  • UK Voluntary Sector Research Group (UKVSRG) brings together the researchers of the four national sector bodies (see Support Bodies page). Wales – WCVA supports sector research and networking. Scotland – try SCVO’s Evidence Library.
  • Voluntary Action History Society aims to advance the historical understanding and analysis of voluntary action, charitable and voluntary organisations and to build a network of academics, students and practitioners working in this field.
  • Voluntary Sector Studies Network “provides a virtual and actual meeting point for scholars and researchers both outside and within the voluntary (third or non-profit) sector(s), with a shared analytic interest in this set of institutions.” Publishes Voluntary Sector Review journal – see Magazines.
  • Various regional statistics have been produced for the sector. See our Local/Regional contacts page.

International (mainly American)

Research Projects and Reports

Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives – website run by run by the British Academy Research Project ‘Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain’ . A five year project (2014-19) which aims to support voluntary sector archives in the preservation and digitisation of their archives and to promote archives as part of the voluntary sector’s wider public benefit responsibility.

Third Sector Impact, a research project bringing together over thirty researchers from 10 European universities and more than 100 stakeholders, was launched January 2014. It aims to understand the scope and scale of the third sector in Europe, its current and potential impact, and the barriers hindering the third sector to fully contribute to the continent’s welfare.

Charity Law and Policy Unit, University of Liverpool. Some publications:

  • Charities and the Contract Culture. Report, July 99, on a year-long research project to identify problems of a legal nature which have arisen for charities as a result of the ‘contract culture’.
  • Legal Issues in Charity Mergers Report, Jan 01, on a year-long research project to identify the legal issues arising in charity mergers and the different responses to them, and to consider the most appropriate solutions to commonly experienced problems.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation carries out some research of relevance. Published 12/3/01: ‘The role and future development of black and minority ethnic organisations‘. This mapping exercise looks at the role of black and minority ethnic-led voluntary and community organisations in England and Wales.

Public Management Foundation Wasted Values: harnessing the commitment of public managers (Nov 99), available from their online book store. A report on research into the goals and motivations of senior public managers. It concludes that public sector managers and their private sector counterparts are motivated by very different things. In June 99, the Foundation undertook a nationwide survey of 400 of the UK’s top public, private and voluntary sector managers. Asked about their goals and about what motivates them to do their job well, managers in the three different sectors gave some revealingly different replies. Voluntary sector managers show a mixture of public and private sector views.

Also see Training – professional development as most of the higher education establishments listed run research programmes to some extent.



A good starting point if you are looking to purchase (or rent) new equipment is What to Buy for Business. Find it in your local (business) reference library, as you need to locate the most recent round-up of the area you are interested in.

Business Equipment Contracts: How To Avoid The Pitfalls is from NCVO, (1996, ISBN 0 7199 1509 0, £5-00) in association with the Photocopier and Business Equipment Users Association. See Publishers page re NCVO. A guide to buying and leasing photocopiers and fax equipment with an explanation of finance contracts.

For equipment generally, remember that it’s not just the initial purchase price that matters – running costs and therefore ‘total cost of ownership’ (TCO) can vary a lot.

You may find the ‘computer replacement strategy‘ (in Word format), drafted by Paul Ticher in connection with a UKRiders discussion, of interest.

There is a Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, for those who are professionals in this area.

See Misc Services page for travel, admin services and more.

General Supplies and Deals

Sector Sources

  • Charities Buying Group is a bulk purchasing arrangement set up by disabled support charity Leonard Cheshire. While big names are signed up, they also welcome small to medium charities. Can provide savings on general areas such as stationery, office equipment and utilities, but also more specialist (mainly care) stuff. Phone 020 7802 8280.
  • InKindDirect Redistributing goods from manufacturers and retailers. Goods range from cleaning products and toiletries, to clothing, toys and nursery items. Refurbished laptops, desktops and photocopiers are also supplied. Register to be able to browse an online catalogue – there is a handling charge for using the service, generally 10-20% of the retail value of the goods, and includes delivery costs. Phone 020 7398 5510,r email:
  • NCVO have negotiated various discounts for their members and also some which extend to non-members.
  • Other sector bodies have arranged some supplier discounts for members.

General Sources

  • Viking Direct Office supplies website is worth registering on, if only to make price comparisons with the above. Useful to get the full printed catalogue, then you can look up a current price on just about any office item. Euroffice is a web-based rival, with simple and cheap pricing.
  • Ethical Stationery is a social enterprise that aims to provide a complete range of ecologically responsible office supplies and services. They claim transparent pricing – “No gimmicks, no expensive catalogues, no price hikes”.

Specific items


Including printers, network kit etc. Also see Services – Computer, as many of those listed will supply hardware too. Also look under Environmental Impact page for more IT recycling firms.

  • Charity Digital Exchange, previously tt-exchange/Charity Technology Exchange. Eligible charities can obtain donated software from various tech companies such as Microsoft, and networking equipment from Cisco. A small administration fee is payable, but charities still make savings of over 90% on normal list price.
  • Computers for Charities is also worth checking (it is a registered charity).
  • IT for Charities has a further list of suppliers of recycled machines and discounted supplies.

Delivery services

  • DHL We understand they have a reduced tariff for registered charities for those regularly using international express. This can save over 60 per cent on both inbound and outbound international document and parcel express, as well as a significant discount on international mail. We couldn’t find info on the website, so we suggest contacting your local DHL office.

Display stands, Exhibitions

  • PEP Ltd Hire of stands, as well as affordable but practical display systems and stands. Will demonstrate. Phone 0800 652 6565, email:
  • Alpha Communications Design, installation etc. Third sector specialists (they’re a coop). Phone 0191 375 0101, email:
  • Marler Haley is a large format print company which provides portable exhibition displays such as banner stands, PVC outdoor banners, tablecloths and much more besides to a large number of charities, big and small.


  • 3Space “is a charity which works in partnership with landlords and leaseholders to offer organisations that benefit the community temporary free of charge access to otherwise empty properties”.
  • Ethical Property Company continues to develop of office centres around the country specifically for voluntary organisations or social enterprises.
  • CAN Mezzanine in London and Bristol is run by a social enterprise to provide affordable, high-quality office space for charities, voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises.
  • VSC (Voluntary Sector Centres) has some Charity Centres letting out office space below market rates.

There are a number of other social enterprise initiatives around the country – keep your ears to the ground, as buildings tend to fill quickly.

Recycled Supplies

  • Green Stationery Company Studio One, 114 Walcot St, Bath, BA1 5BG, phone 01225 480556, email:
  • PaperBack ‘the name in recycled paper’. Phone 020 8980 5580.

Recycling your equipment

If you are upgrading IT systems, making old computers redundant, renewing furniture etc. check out Resource Extra – Environmental Impact.


See Accounts Software or Membership Software pages for suppliers in those specialist areas, and also the Technology Services listing page.

There are various charity discounts available for Microsoft and other products. The different options can be quite confusing and even those resellers with a particular sector focus can be unclear at times on criteria for the discounts.

  • The following four suppliers are part of a discount scheme for NCVO member organisations where some of the restrictions around licence volumes etc may be waived. They are also a good place for non-members to start, too, for Microsoft or other software.
    Akhter Computers# Phone 01279 821202, email:
    Entec Phone 01462 499599, email:
    Phoenix Software Ltd Blenheim House, York Road, Pocklington, York, YO42 1NS, phone 0845 265 1265, email:
    Pugh Computers Denver House, Llanon, Aberystwyth, SY23 5LP, phone 01974 200201, email:
  • WCVA members (Welsh equivalent of NCVO) and SCVO members (Scotland) should contact Pugh Computers re above discounts.
  • Microsoft had a UK software donation programme, now replaced by TT Exchange (previously Charity Technology Exchange) – see under Computers above.

Telecoms/Communication Centres

  • The Phone Co-op ‘was founded because it identified a need for organisations in the Third Sector or Social Economy to have access to affordable telecommunications’. They did have a Third Sector Tariff available to charities, non-profits, co-ops, public sector, but its disappeared from the website (Jan ’06). Phone 0870 458 2000, email:
  • The Ofcom PASS (Price Assurance Standard) is meant to help provide clear price comparisons (residential lines).
  • CLASS Systems have special deals negotiated on behalf of NCVO, including a tariff open to non-members. Phone 0800 018 6992.

Phone Conferencing info is on the Admin page. Communication/call centres – Media Services.


Utility Aid provides Utility deals through Charities Buying Group (see top section), and direct.

Charities are exempt from the climate change levy if business use is less than 40% of the total. Check to see if this applies to your organisation, and get billed correctly. There is also an issue around the rate of VAT on energy supplies where non-business use (e.g. services funded by grant, donations rather than by contract) should be eligible for the VAT rate charged on domestic bills (5%). See info on MakeItCheaper website.

Running an Event

Important note: this page is definitely NOT a complete statement of the legal issues – we only give pointers. Check out our Legal Matters page for further help in this area.

Events Diaries

Year Ahead (was Awareness Campaign Register) has a calendar of all campaigns logged with them, to help avoid clashes or fit in with existing events. However, access requires a subscription.

Fundraising UK has some information on upcoming events.

Where Can We Go, while a general ‘family events’ listing site, encourages community and other charity events to be added.

General tips

‘The event isn’t over until you’ve packed up and got back to base’. Too many events fall into chaos at the end due to premature celebrations by the organisers.

Checklist from Open University ‘Winning Resources and Support’ – SCHEMES:
– Space
– Cash
– Helpers
– Equipment
– Materials
– Expertise
– Systems

Start from the event date and work backwards in planning the lead up. Can you realistically carry out several tasks in parallel, or do you need more volunteers or time (or money to pay overtime, outside agencies etc)?

Don’t forget contingency planning – ‘what if …..’ You can’t anticipate everything, but a way to deal with a broad range of problems should be thought through early on. What is crucial to success, and how do you ensure this?

If your organisation is ever going to run any other event, a ‘debrief’ is very helpful, within a few days of the event finishing. What went wrong, but also what went right – it is easy to assume that the latter happened naturally and end up not giving these items enough attention next time.

Although it is helpful to divide up the work, it also needs to be co-ordinated by one person or a very active (and small) committee.


Taking Money

Don’t forget that there are strict rules about collecting money in public places, with charities having to be particular careful. While police/local authorities may turn a blind eye to small-scale bending, it is usually better to do the homework. See Charity Commission website for leaflet CC20 – Charities and Fund-Raising.

If you are running a more sophisticated event and have the potential to process credit card payments, note that it is now possible to get hold of hand-held electronic terminals which connect via the mobile phone network. Various options out there, but changing, so best to do a web search.

A leaflet from HM Revenue and Customs, Fundraising events : exemption for Charities and Other Qualifying Bodies  – note leaflet CWL4 not available from new web section at November 2014 – sets out the conditions for direct tax and VAT exemptions that apply to fundraising events.


There are quite a few regulations around ‘public’ events. Unless your event is by invite only (and even then you ought to make sure on the exact status), it is likely to fall within this. Possible issues:

  • Sale of alcohol. Will require application to magistrates court – check out via local council. The common tactic of selling raffle tickets and winning a ‘free’ drink is legally highly dubious!
  • Public entertainment licence. Check with local authority. May also require Music licence – see Legal Matters.
  • Lotteries. You need to register with the local authority.
  • Street collections. Ditto.
  • Food hygiene registration if you are preparing food ‘on site’. Try Environmental Health section of local council.
  • Fire regulations are generally the responsibility primarily of the venue management. Hirers may be required to observe particular rules, or notify them if certain hazards are present (e.g. fuel for a barbecue?).
  • Street activities will probably need clearance from the police, and maybe the highways authority (local council) too.
  • Also see Risks below.


Village halls and the like wishing to show films need a licence from the local authority. There are a number of exemptions to this, including:

  • if there is no charge or private gain
  • if the premises are used for no more than six films a year
  • if you are a non profit making organisation with a Home Office exemption certificate
  • if you form a non-profit making film or video society whose performances are only open to members

Copyright and royalty permissions are necessary even if a licence is not required.


The Theatres Act 1968 states that where a local authority is satisfied that a play is to be performed for a charitable or other like purpose in respect to one or more particular occasions no fee is payable for a licence. This means in practice that if a play is to be performed for charitable purposes and if dates of performances are given in advance, no fee will be required. However, in the case of an annual licence, there would be a fee payable because it relates to unspecified performances throughout the year.

(The above two items extracted from June 01 Newsline from Community First H&W. They may well be out of date, due to the Licensing Act 2005.)


Centre for Accessible Environments has produced a guide, Make your conference accessible, but now doesn’t seem to be on the web site (March 07).

Also see Admin page on Access and other premises issues.


The usual marketing checklist – who’s the audience (people), how do you get to them (place), what is the attraction (product) and what do they have to do to participate (price)? Don’t forget to give contact details, meeting or kick offs times and how to get there. Obvious but often something is missed off – get a second person to check over what has been produced before it goes to printers/local newspaper etc.

See Marketing page.


See the Insurance information page, or go direct to Insurance Services page for brokers.

A ‘duty of care’ is placed on anybody organising an event. This means looking at activities for possible health and safety problems for participants, organisers and bystanders. While challenge and other (fundraising) physical activities have obvious risks, everything from meetings in badly maintained buildings to crushes around celebrity appearances have their own unique issues. Step back and consider the (reasonable) possibilities, and plan to prevent or manage them.

The Home Office (with wider input) produced (summer 06) ‘The Good Practice Safety Guide for small and sporting events taking place on the highway, roads and public places’ so that such events are as safe as possible for the public and participants. Its 72 pages has specific sections on charity stunts, carnivals, charity walks, cycle races and other useful material. No longer available from website, May 2010?

Do you need first aid cover? Typically provided at charity events by volunteers from St Johns Ambulance, British Red Cross etc, but there is usually some charge for the service. There may be a commercial service available e.g. Primary Ambulance Services in Essex.

Live music booking agency Function Central have put together “A Definitive Guide to Health and Safety Requirements for Event Planning“. Some of this will only apply to larger or more complex events, but plenty of food for thought.

Code of Practice

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has various Codes of Fundraising Practice which cover running events – outdoor, charity challenge etc. They have also produced a leaflet with the Association of National Park Authorities on Charity Challenge Events but no longer on the web site?

More Resources

Society of Event Organisers run various seminars etc. on how to organise exhibitions, conferences etc. Phone 01767 316255

See Event Services page for ticketing, event booking etc.

Fundraising Resources

Fundraising services and info, online giving, sample sites, funders

Fundraising information

Payroll giving is covered on the Tax Reclaim Services page.


Consultant sites with resources

See Professional Bodies page for further support networks. Also see Magazines page.

Locating sources of grants etc.

Also see: Directory of Social Change above. There are a number of Twitter feeds (at autumn 2014) putting out updates on grants and other income opportunities, too.

  • EU Money Service publishes a directory of European grants and has a grants update service.
  • Funding Central is managed by NCVO. It covers a wide variety of grants, contracts and loans that are available particularly from official sources, plus sections on advice, ‘find a partner’ etc.
  • Grants Online Information on calls for proposals from the European Union, government and National Lottery grants etc. Free trial, annual sub from £75.
  • Idox has a suite of media platforms which “offer access to thousands of funding opportunities for businesses, community groups and students across the UK”. See Grantfinder database. They also run Open4FundingOpen4Community to allow councils to put funding search facilities for charity and community groups on their web sites.


Funders with useful websites


National Lottery related

Fundraising on the web

Crowdfunding is a label sometimes attached to online sourcing of fundraising by individuals. See Online Income Services for Platforms/giving portals, Online Tools and Services. Our Taking Action Personally page may also give some initiatives you can benefit from or be inspired by.

Also see Membership Systems, as increasingly fundraising management processes are integrated into a wider CRM (customer relationship management) function.

Note that some services are promoted as “free” but check what this means, as the phrase can ignore administration charges or cuts from Gift Aid, for example.

Mailing lists

  • MarketingFile Provides access to mailing lists via the web. You make your own selections and pay per item (no minimum quantities). While they see this as useful to smaller charities, there aren’t any tailored charity lists and you would need to have a clear idea of your target audience. Definitely worth a look if you are thinking of doing a cold-mailing appeal to generate new donors.
  • Avongate Find relevant postal and email lists for direct mail campaigns.

Shop and Donate

Sites generating commission/donations based on consumer purchases from various online retailers. Most of these charge charities/organisations to appear, and/or take a cut of each transaction generated. Some sites don’t last long, but others are now reasonably established. Note: We don’t update this list very often.

  • Easy Fundraising Over 55,000 causes, 2,700 retailers, at Sep. 2014.
  • The Giving Machine. Has a shopping toolbar/reminder system. Over 6,600 schools & charities at Sep. 2014.
  • Give as you Live Over 3,500 stores, give to a charity of the month or your own choice.
  • GoRaise.
  • Vouchers4charity. Gift Vouchers/Greetings Cards can be bought online, with 3% of voucher value donated to charity.
  • eBay for Charity section – auctioning items for charity benefit.

Charity retail

Affiliate schemes, banner ads

These involve linking into existing schemes, such as the popular online bookseller Amazon’s facility for site visitors to link through from appropriate content, e.g. a book review, with a commission from connected sales coming back to you. You can get paid for carrying banner ads on your site, and some commercial sites now carry charity banners, with the named charity getting a small amount every time someone clicks on the ad (presumably the hosting site gets some info on its visitors this way).

Tab for a Cause web app turns any newly opened tab on a Chrome or Firefox web browser into a “charity collecting hub”, raising money from the banner advertisements which populate the new page. Purely American at Sep. 2014, but may expand.

Staff Payment Practicalities

Salary Scales and Comparisons

Many voluntary organisations use scales linked to local authority, civil service or specific groups like academic or nursing grades. The main problems are equating rather different jobs to particular points or grades on the scales and getting hold of the complete pay rate information on a reliable basis. Many of the scales are published and subscription services may be available – alternatively your organisation may have to become a member of the negotiating body (rates for small organisations aren’t always prohibitive).

NJC (local authority) scales can be found at

There are also some sector salary surveys:

  1. ACEVO publishes regular surveys of Chief Executive pay, which is available to members – see support bodies page.
  2. Croner Solutions does regular (annual) surveys in many sectors, including charities (in association with CF Appointments). 2003 results are based on data from 270 charities of all shapes and sizes, covering 7,800 different jobs. Reliable, but not easy to get to grips with. Charity survey costs (at 2003) £305. Phone 01785 813566, email:
  3. NCVO carries out an annual sector salary survey through Xpert HR Solutions (previously Remuneration Economics). Results published in September, and participating organisations get a discount (e.g. small organisations got the 2002 version for £65 as opposed to £290). Some professional consultants have been puzzled by past findings which are roughly 40% lower than their experience and other surveys say.

Other sources of salary comparators are organisations similar to yourselves (although they could be cagey if there is competition for staff!) or for admin work try temp agencies and other commercial firms who have similar jobs to yours.

Pension Issues

Update March 2012: Stakeholder pensions are now old hat, and new requirements for occupational pensions have a staged introduction (based on number of employees) from October 2012. The following needs amendment.

Employers should check the government’s pensions info page for more – also see employee pension page.

Both the HM Revenue and Customs site and that from The Pensions Regulator (was Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority) are generally clear and helpful.

See Pension Provider page for pension schemes of particular interest to the voluntary sector.

For employees, PensionSorter is worth checking. Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) is a grant aided voluntary organisation giving free help and advice to members of the public who have a problem concerning either a company or personal pension scheme. TPAS will also assist with general enquiries on State Pension Schemes; helpline for employees on 0845 601 2923.

Also check ethical investment issues at UKSIF (or see the VolResource Ethical Investment page).

Sector Trends

Levels of staff turnover are something managers and management committees worry about. In some areas, high turnover can be a good thing, as moving between organisations is the only way to gain breadth and depth of experience, with long service being an indication of low self-esteem or drive. (We have come across this in many small community-based groups.)

Surveys etc

(Material to be updated.)


Payment of expenses can be more of an issue than salaries. The tax implications are often not understood, by employee or employer. See PAYE section below.

Car Mileage rates: HM Revenue and Customs sets out rates which they regard as not being taxable. Compare these with the NJC scale rates (see Payscales above. And don’t forget that there is a bicycle tax free mileage rate (of 20p in 2002), and cycles and cycle safety equipment made available to employees for commuting don’t attract tax charges.

Subsistence allowances. Again NJC publishes some rates (we haven’t checked if they are on the usual websites). Voluntary organisations may prefer to reimburse actual costs, within limits.

Other issues. There are many oddities, but some we have come across include:
– phone calls from home/own mobile. Do you recognise a rental element? If so, you will probably have to declare this with the year-end tax return.
– do staff incurring regular expenses (site visits?) need a float? Make sure record keeping is adequate on both sides. If you are going to pay expenses out of petty cash, can you ‘trap’ any problematic ones or compile adequate info. for Inland Revenue purposes? If you are going to pay by cheque, can you turn these around quickly enough so that staff don’t suffer and/or complain?

Income Tax, Payroll issues (PAYE/NIC etc.)

Once you know what you are looking for, get more details from the HM Revenue and Customs web site.

Voluntary groups are viewed in exactly the same way as any other employer. The only thing you need to make sure any adviser checks is the Small Employer criteria for Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay, which means you can reduce NI contributions if you qualify. The Contributions Agency, which deals with National Insurance, became part of the Inland Revenue in 1999 (and is now called the National Insurance Contributions Office), so start at the web site given above.

The Employers Helpline is on 0345 143 143 for general tax and NIC enquiries. The Inland Revenue are now publishing their main guides and forms on CD-ROM annually, but seemingly only available at the start of the tax year. Get this through the Employers Orderline on 0845 7646 646 (you need your employers reference for this).

Specific Issues

It is worth trying to be extra rigorous in recording employee expenses – it is rare that voluntary orgs pay more than actual costs, but inspectors often want proof. Check out if you need a ‘dispensation’ so you don’t have to report all these details on the annual return, and also check that car mileage rates are within their scales. Download the current version of the HMRC booklet on Expenses and Benefits (480) but expect it to be around 100 pages.

Calling senior staff or your management committee/trustees ‘Directors’ can also lead to confusion, as there are special rules about people who are actually company directors.

Payroll Resources

Many local sector support organisations (CVS), community accountancy projects, DSC and some other sector trainers provide basic training on operating the payroll – check training provider page for contacts.

The available commercial payroll support bodies have changed since this page was compiled, but there are probably some still out there.

Charity Tax Reclaims

aka Tax Efficient Giving

Gift Aid, Deeds of Covenant, Payroll Giving …..

The HM Revenue & Customs website, the key source , has been incorporated into (Jan. 2015) – check the Services and Info page.

Leaflets you might want to get:

  • Giving to charity by businesses (IR64),
  • Giving to charity by individuals (IR65),
  • Giving Shares and Securities to Charity (IR 178).

The Basics

NB Please note that rates have changed since this section was written.

The limit on Payroll Giving was abolished from April 2000 (previously £1200 per employee), and to promote the scheme the government is to add 10% on such donations, during the following 3 years. Give As You Earn (GAYE) can be operated on behalf of any non-profit organisation which has been recognised as such by the Inland Revenue. You have to operate the scheme via an approved agency.

The days are numbered for Deeds of Covenant as the revised Gift Aid system has no minimum limit (previously £250). There are potential traps and admin nightmares around values of benefits received in exchange for donations (e.g. newsletters or perhaps for larger donors, special seats at events or chances to meet celebrities) – see the guidance notes. Phone and internet giving can also be included – but you have to send a written confirmation which includes a chance for cancellation.

Reclaiming tax (which is income tax or capital gains tax) is done at the standard rate, currently 22%. It is easy to assume you claim 22% of the donation. Not so! Remember, the 22% has effectively already been deducted, so what you are claiming is 22% of the higher amount BEFORE that deduction. The maths is: tax reclaim = donation x (100/(100-22)), which is the same as adding 28% (rounded down). There are bound to be queries on this from time to time! IT for Charities have written a little bit of Javascript which you can put on your website (for free) to show how much a donation increases by.

There is a specialist Inland Revenue branch dealing with charity tax issues, in particular income tax repayment claims. Still often referred to as FICO, its now officially Inland Revenue Charities. Forms and procedures have been simplified, but with greater security, from April 2000.
– IR Charities (Repayments), St John’s House, Merton Road, Bootle, Merseyside, L69 9BB, phone 0151 472 6036/6037 (Gift Aid) or 0151 472 6029/6053/6370/6371 (Payroll Giving) or 0151 472 6046 (Giving shares).
– The reclaim work of the Scottish office is being transferred to Bootle, June 04.
– Local rate helpline 08453 02 02 03.


Please now see the official Gift Aid information from HMRC, as the following is out-of-date.

A crucial element of your systems is having an ‘audit trail‘ so that it is possible to go from the claim you submit to the original records and documents both for the money given and the Gift Aid declaration (you may have obtained a ‘global’ declaration covering any donation from 6th April 2000). See below about filling in and submitting claim forms so that Inland Revenue can process them. The new form is now available, and will be sent automatically if you submit a tax reclaim, under the ‘old’ scheme or otherwise.

Relevant extracts from the Getting Britain Gift Aid Guidance document:

“8.2 You should use the existing claim form R68 and schedules to reclaim tax for:
•Gift Aid donations and covenanted payments by individuals received before 6 April 2000
•covenanted payments by individuals received on or after 6 April 2000 but falling due before that date
•Gift Aid donations and covenanted payments by companies received before 1 April 2000.”

“8.4 You will no longer have to complete separate schedules for Gift Aid donations and covenanted payments – in future there will only be one type of schedule for all donations. You will have to enter the following details on the new schedule for each donor:
•the donor’s name
•the date of the donation, or, where the claim covers more than one donation by the donor, the date of the last donation
•the total amount of donations by the donor on which you are claiming in the schedule.

8.5 You will have to complete a separate schedule for each tax year, or part tax year, included in the claim. It will no longer be necessary, however, for you to calculate the tax relating to each donation separately. You will simply be able to calculate the total tax reclaimed for all the donations shown on each schedule.”

8.6 ……..Remember – do not reclaim tax for any donations by companies received on or after 1 April 2000.

“8.7 You can start making your tax reclaims immediately from 6 April 2000.

8.8 In the case of covenanted payments falling due on or after 6 April 2000, you need no longer wait until after the due date has passed before reclaiming tax – you can reclaim tax at any time after you receive the payment.”

Software for claiming back tax

Although Gift Aid isn’t too complicated to administer (once you have sorted out any benefit issues), smaller charities may want help.

  • Donations Coordinator comes from Data Developments – ‘software for churches and charities’. They’ve been working to make their programs much more generic and not so church-focused. Currently more sophisticated than GATS, and has some import and export facilities. £159 at spring ’13. Data Developments, Wolverhampton Science Park, Stafford Road, Wolverhampton, WV10 9RU, phone 01902 824044.
  • Gift Aid Manager is from Orchard Software. Developed in Microsoft Access, it appears to have all the necessary features in a logical format. £99 incl p&p, including 3 months technical support. Demo version can be downloaded. Email:
  • Mijan Consulting GiftAid Recorder Keeps a record of donors and donations and automatically completes the form R68(GiftAid). £30 inc. VAT. Developed by an experienced Charity Treasurer who uses it himself. Trial version available. Email:

Many online fundraising services, if UK based, will also have Gift Aid facilities.

Other resources

We can’t cover all the possibilities for registered charities here. So, as well as HM Revenue and Customs sources: