Gift Aid vital in donating unwanted Christmas presents

Charities can claim Gift Aid on donations of unwanted Christmas presents.
Charities can claim Gift Aid on donations of unwanted Christmas presents.

The default destination for unwanted possessions – and those Christmas gifts you simply don’t want – is likely to be local charity shops.

But a lot of people are not sure what’s worth donating and how best to do it.

Perhaps the most important factor in donating to charity is Gift Aid.

The tax incentive allows anyone who pays income tax in the UK to complete a very simple declaration to this effect, stating that they’re happy for Gift Aid to be applied.

Any donations made are then treated as being made after basic-rate income tax, so the charity can reclaim the value of that tax.

For most people, this adds 25 per cent to the value of their donations and can have a big impact on a charity’s profits.

There’s little more to it than verbally confirming that you’re happy for a charity to claim Gift Aid on all of your donations.

So what to donate? The short answer is anything which might sell. Always in demand are unwanted gifts, clothing and shoes, accessories, toys and games, books, DVDs, CDs and vinyl and crockery, glassware, and bakeware.

Alastair Petrie, from Gift Aid specialists BMc Azurri, said: “In the case of clothing, almost every charity shop will have a relationship with one or more textile merchants, so everything can be sold on.

“Every donation is useful and it can all be Gift Aided.”

Furniture and electrical items can often bring in higher revenue for a charity shop but not all shops take these bulkier items so it’s best to check in advance.

Sofas and suites must have a fire retardant label attached and any electrical goods should, ideally, be inspected and tested before donation by a qualified electrician.

Some charities will carry out electrical equipment testing but it’s advisable to check in advance.

Alastair added: “Reuse is better than recycling.

“Donating to a charity shop allows your items to live on as well as generating funds to protect and help those who most need it in our society.”

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, one of the many charities keen to help pass on unwanted gifts, said: “We’ve all received a gift at Christmas that’s not suitable, such as the wrong size clothing or two of the same item - by donating any unusable or duplicate Christmas presents to our shops you will not only be re-gifting, but also helping Scotland’s most disadvantaged children.

“Every penny plays a vital part in ensuring we continue to support these children.”