Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

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Ensuring we get the best from the Government scheme

What is the scheme?
The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) aims to enable charities to claim a Gift Aid style repayment on small cash donations of up to and including £30 where it is often difficult to obtain a Gift Aid declaration. For churches, this would include loose cash in the offering plate and donations not in 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 in a similar way.

Churches can claim top-up payments on up to £8,000 of small donations they receive each tax year. This means a church can reclaim £2,000 each year (i.e. 25% of £8,000).

Covid-19: For helpful clarification from HMRC on how to deal with those people who are storing up their regular non Gift Aid giving envelopes for when they next return to church, please see: Alerts from HMRC.
How does it work?
To take advantage of the GASDS scheme, 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.
  • You 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 and contactless payments, 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 2015 and 2017 - 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.

If you want to benefit from the scheme, it is important to ensure that:
  • Gift Aid records are regularly maintained with a valid audit trail
  • Gift Aid claims are made regularly (at least annually)
  • Your vestry procedure correctly records small donations. See the downloadable templates on the right
  • You are clear about which small donations are eligible. See the next section for guidance.
What donations can we claim for?
The Church of England position relating to the donations we can claim under the GASDS scheme changed in 2015 and again in 2017.

Initially, HMRC considered parishes within a diocese to be 'connected' for the purposes of the scheme, which meant that parishes could only claim using the Community Buildings element of the scheme.  This has since changed, and parishes can claim on the main 'top-up charity element of the scheme. 

There are two options, depending on whether the parish is a single church or mult-church parish:

1 - Single church parishes should 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 e.g. home communions
Exclude donations for things like tea / coffee, votive candles, flower festival, i.e. anything with a 'benefit'. See the national Guide to GASDS for parishes with single church for more details.

2 - Multi-church parishes should continue to claim on the Community Buildings element, up to £8000 for each separate church building. You can include small cash donations:
  • in loose offerings
  • regular non Gift Aid envelopes
  • in wall safes
  • received outside the building but made within the Local Authority area of the building, e.g. home communions
The same exclusions as above also apply.

For a building to be eligible to count as a "community building", charitable activities (services) should take place with at least 10 people (beneficiaries) present on at least 6 occasions in the year.

See the national Guide to GASDS for parishes with multiple churches for more details.

What else changed from 6 April 2017?
  • Eligibility requirements:  This included removing the requirement where you have to have made a Gift Aid claim in at least  two of the last four tax years. This has affected some churches who don’t make regular annual Gift Aid claims.
  • Contactless payments: These can now 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.

The Resources team offer regular briefing sessions on the GASDS scheme.

Making It Easier

Parish finances

Gift Aid guidance

Useful downloads

Useful links & downloads

National CofE guidance: 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 guidance


HMRC detailed GASDS

Small Charitable Donations Bill: GASDS Bill

Need help with GASDS?

Contact our Gift Aid Officer
Cath Gaskell 
0151 705 2132