Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

Making It Easier > Processes > Finances > Small Donations Scheme

Ensuring we get the best from the government scheme.

What is this scheme?

The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) took effect from 6 April 2013. The purpose of the scheme is to enable charities to claim a Gift Aid style repayment on small cash donations of up to and including £20, where it is often difficult to obtain a Gift Aid declaration. For churches this would be loose cash in the offering plate and donations in non Gift Aid envelopes.

It is important to note that GASDS is not a tax relief like Gift Aid but a government spending measure. GASDS is a separate scheme but is claimed alongside Gift Aid and in a similar way. In general, churches can claim top up payments on up to £5,000 of small donations made to them each tax year, a figure that will rise to £8,000 from 6 April 2016. This means that given the maximum limit of £5,000 of small donations a church can reclaim £1,250 each year which will rise to £2,000 from April 2016 (i.e. 25% of the new limit of £8,000)

How does it work?

To take advantage of the GASDS scheme, from 6 April 2013 vestry records should clearly show which donations are eligible for GASDS.  You must make a cash analysis of your loose offerings and small donations.  The simple vestry sheet in the downloads box makes this straightforward.
  • To be eligible for the scheme, a charity must have been registered with HMRC for at least 2 years and have made at least 2 successful Gift Aid claims in (not for) the last 4 years.
  • The charity must make Gift Aid claims on the donations received in the same tax year to make a GASDS claim for that tax year (GASDS will be claimed for tax years - whereas our Gift Aid claims are made for financial years).
  • Total Gift Aid donations must be at least 10% of the amount of small donations on which top up payments are claimed.
  • The Scheme only applies to cash donations, not cheques or Standing Orders.
A word of caution

GASDS has proved complex with rules that allow charities with similar activities but very different legal structures (eg C of E and RC churches) to be able to take advantage of the scheme and rules to prevent abuse.

How the Church of England churches claim GASDS was revised in late 2015 - please see “What donations can we claim for? below, and national church guidance via links in the panel on the right.

What do we need to do?

GASDS is a separate scheme: it does not mean the end of Gift Aid.  So it is important that you:
  • Ensure you keep your Gift Aid records with valid audit trail as usual
  • Ensure you make regular (ideally at least annual) Gift Aid claims
  • Your vestry procedure should be amended for offerings received from 6 April 2013 if you want to benefit from the scheme. See the downloadable templates on the right
  • As noted already, be clear as to which small donations are eligible. See the next section for brief guidance.
What donations can we claim for? The answer to this question changed in 2015 and changed again from April 2017!
The Church of England position relating to the donations we can claim under the GASDS scheme changed in late 2015.

Initially, HMRC considered parishes within a diocese to be "connected" for the purposes of the scheme.  This meant that parishes could only claim using the Community Buildings element of the scheme - an allowance of up to £5,000 per building.

HMRC have since agreed that parishes are not connected, so we can claim on the main "Top up" element - an allowance of up to £5000 per parish. This means that we are not limited to donations collected in the building during services. Initially, we all "shared" this £5000 main element.

There are 2 options:

Single church parishes
can now claim on the main Top Up element of the scheme, up to £8000 per parish.  You can include small cash donations:
  • in loose offerings
  • regular non Gift Aid envelopes
  • in wall safes
  • received outside the building eg home communions
Exclude donations for, for example, tea/coffee, votive candles, flower festival, anything with a "benefit". See the national Guide to GASDS for parishes with single church (pdf) for more details.

Multi church parishes
should continue to claim on the Community Buildings element, up to £8000 for each separate church building.  For donations received up to 5 April 2017:
  • The only donations which can be included are those which are given in the building, whilst charitable activities (services) are taking place, and only when at least 10 people (beneficiaries) are present.
  • This means that you will need a record of the amounts received and the number of people present (or that at least 10 people were present) for each service where you want to include the donations received in the GASDS claim.
  • Donations received at home communions, during the week not in a service, in wall safes, during tea/coffee and for candles are not eligible (other than in very particular circumstances).
  • For non diocesan scheme parishes: when making the claim for GASDS, only claim using the Community Buildings spreadsheet or section of the ChR1 form.  Do not enter an amount for a top up claim for your "organisation", or you will be double claiming!
See the national Guide to GASDS for parishes with multiple churches (pdf) for more details.

What can we claim from 6 April 2017?

The new changes are essentially:
  • Changes to the eligibility requirements.  This includes removing the requirement where you have to have made a Gift Aid claim in at least 2 of the last 4 tax years.  This has effected some churches who don’t make regular annual Gift Aid claims.
  • The Community buildings amount now includes donations made within the Local Authority area of the building, not just in the building.
  • This means that you can include donations made other than during services.
  • Contactless payments can be included!
More guidance

See the checklist on the right to compare what donations you can claim depending on whether you claim on the Top Up or Community Buildings element of the scheme, both before and after 6 April 2017.

The Resources team offer regular briefing sessions on the GASDS scheme.  We will post the date of the next session here once it has been arranged.

Gift Aid


A simple vestry sheet:
Simple vestry sheet

An alternative vestry sheet example
Example vestry sheet

Presentation from most recent briefing sessions:
Presentation slides

Top Up or Community Building?
GASDS checklist

GASDS tracker sheets
GASDS tracker sheet 2017 Jan to Apr
GASDS tracker sheet 2017 Apr to Dec

External Links

National CofE website
GASDS web page
Vestry sheet
Notes on vestry sheet
Guide to GASDS for parishes with single church
Guide to GASDS for parishes with multiple churches

HMRC website
HMRC detailed GASDS

Details of the Small Charitable Donations Bill:


Kim Stanley 
0151 705 2132