I first became involved back in 2005 when my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Both my wife and family received wonderful care and support from Harris HospisCare during this difficult time.
This continued during the subsequent year when I joined a Friends after Bereavement (FAB) group which enabled us to share happier times together. In particular, I received personal support and instruction that enabled me to use ‘Photoshop’ to create a montage of my wife’s life, the results of which were put in an album for each family member.
Whilst I supported the Hospice financially, it was not until some 6 years later that I was invited in for a chat and the subject of volunteering arose. Whilst I was keen to become involved, I did not feel comfortable working in a patient environment but my banking background was apparently well suited to working in Fundraising on Gift Aid and I was pleased to take on the role one day a week.
Volunteering has also given me much pleasure…I often tell people that it is the happiest of places to work
At that time, Gift Aid Declarations were paper based but, on integration with St Christopher’s paper records in 2015, it was clear that this process was no longer manageable and it was decided to migrate to scanned records. This involved manually checking some 22,000 individual declarations for compliance with HMRC Guidelines and, with the help of numerous volunteers, this task was completed some 18 months later.
This has enabled us to introduce system-enforced controls and streamline the process whilst maximising the opportunities to increase income from Gift Aid.
I consider that Gift Aid represents a significant source of income for St Christopher’s, at no additional cost to donors, and it is important that we take steps to maximise opportunities e.g. through our marketing and monitoring processes, whilst ensuring strict compliance with HMRC Guidelines.
Like many volunteers, I wanted to repay in some small way the care my family received but volunteering has also given me much pleasure and I enjoy both the social and mental benefits of being involved; I often tell people that it is the happiest of places to work.
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