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News & Events

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News & Events

23rd November 2015

Gift Aid is a major source of revenue for charity shops – but for charities to benefit, the original owners of donated stock items must each sign-up for the scheme when depositing goods with retail outlets. The necessary compliance is not completed for as many as 55 per cent of donations of items – according to a SASSIE 2014 report.

However The Children’s Society has successfully improved Gift Aid compliance by its 107 stores to further increase its £8 million annual income to fund support services that help vulnerable children in England and Wales.

The charity first appointed React Surveys in 2014 to assess each store twice a year. This includes an audit to check standards of in-store merchandising, service and business processes, with a separate visit by mystery shoppers for further inspection.

Lodge Service and its customer research division React Surveys has provided security and mystery shopping services to a range of charities for 25 years, to identify the need for additional training or changes to support in-store processes.

Paul Tate, New Business Manager of the charity, says:

“The survey programme was not designed to catch people out. We worked with the shop managers to formulate the questions and checks that produced information that they themselves wanted to be performance measured against. So we looked at everything from the cleanliness, ambiance and background music in-store, to getting the correct change and how customers are greeted – measuring courtesy and sales competency, for example”

In the inspections there are key operational areas that carry more weight than others do, Paul Tate says, in particular compliance with the Gift Aid scheme.

Donations of money and goods that have been Gift Aided enable charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 donated. But to comply, charities must make sure the donor is a UK tax payer, paying sufficient tax to cover their Gift Aid donations. A unique barcoded price ticket is then produced for scanning at the point of sale to record the transaction

Support for EpoS Systems

Gift Aid represents a significant investment for the charity. It requires high value EPoS (Electronic Point of Sale) technology to process the mandatory compliance data. There is also additional training for the volunteer staff, and a commitment for the charity’s head office team in London to administer the scheme.

Mystery shoppers from React Surveys identified two areas requiring improvement. They were briefed to donate a bag of stock and also make a purchase of a Gift Aided item and to record how staff dealt with both of these areas. The report from the exercise showed that for 29 per cent of purchases the operators had failed to scan the bar-code and in addition, around 50 per cent of donors were not invited to join the Gift Aid scheme.

In response, Nisyst, the provider of Epos tilling and software to The Children’s Society devised clever software which ensured every bar-code was scanned at the point of sale, meaning they could no longer be inadvertently missed at the point of sale.

“React Surveys represents a very useful tool to help mitigate risks in the retail process that might otherwise go undiscovered. The audits ensure staff are conscious of how they come across to customers. We can also quickly target stores or specific retail processes for attention if we need too. As a result of the success of our retail operations, we’ve opened 16 new shops over the last 18 months and grown the business by over 7 per cent annually,” says Patricia Cook, Retail Support Manager of the Children’s Society

Lodge Service and React Surveys also help charities with street and door-to-door fundraising checks; stock and cash audits; covert and overt vehicle tracking and analysis; and store security guarding.

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