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Gift Aid. You see the phrase on signs and leaflets around our three zoos, and you’ve probably come across it in relation to other charities. You know it has something to do with the taxman and donations, but you’re a little hazy on how it works and why we keep on asking you to pay it. I’m going to explain – but before we get into the how, here’s a bit about the why...

Why Gift Aid is a good thing

We’re a charity. We don’t get handouts; we don’t have a millionaire owner. We earn our money from the people who visit us – and we’re mightily grateful to you all. Gift Aid is another way of bringing in cash. Say you DO decide to Gift Aid your entry – what’s in it for us?

  • As a charity we effectively generate extra income from the Government through Gift Aid
  • The extra money helps us to do things like fund conservation work in Zimbabwe, ranger patrols in Tanzania, outreach in Sulawesi, environmental education in Nigeria, species protection in Vietnam and work with everything from trees to dormice in the UK
  • It means we can speak up for the wild world, advocating, promoting and campaigning for change
  • It allows us to carry out education work, support research and share our knowledge with others
  • It means we can buy equipment for rangers protecting wildlife on the front line

The charity’s additional income from Gift Aid for the financial year ending in October 2017 was £429,000 – and that’s just for Paignton Zoo. The three zoos together raised over £700,000 from Gift Aid – an amazing sum.

Here are some examples of how we could spend your Gift Aid money:

Camera trap to take photos remotely and without disturbing animals £150
GPS handset £200
Binoculars £61
Camera £145
Raincoats £10
Boots £15
Tent £66
Head torch £12

We recently equipped a team of Tanzanian rangers for field patrols to help stop illegal hunting and logging in the Uzungwa Scarp Nature Forest Reserve, one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. It cost just under £2000; among other items, we bought two GPS units, two pairs of binoculars and two cameras, plus raincoats, boots, tents, head torches and camping equipment for up to 9 rangers.

How Gift Aid worKS

OK, so now for the explanation. Gift Aid is a bit complicated, but I think I might have got my head around it. Stick with me…
Gift Aid is a UK tax incentive that enables tax-effective giving by individuals to charities in the United Kingdom. Gift Aid was introduced in the Finance Act 1990. Donating through Gift Aid means charities can claim money from the Treasury on top of the money you give them. 
That’s pretty clear. But hang on, there are different sorts of Gift Aid. In fact, there are three ways in which you can help us through Gift Aid.

The first way is when you make a donation that’s not linked to a ticket or annual pass. It’s simply a donation, and if you qualify (essentially, if you’re a UK tax payer) then you can Gift Aid it.

The second way is when you buy a ticket and you pay a Gift Aid donation of 10% over and above the ticket price. If you do that, then we as a charity get an extra 25p in the £ on the full amount (the ticket price plus the ten per cent) back from the Government.

The third way is when you become an annual pass holder. You pay one amount and get unlimited access to our three zoos for 12 months. In fact, an annual pass is the same price whether you Gift Aid it or not, so if you can, you might as well – on this occasion, it won’t cost you anything extra! And it’s great value, because once you’ve visited three or four times, you’re laughing. 

Hmm, right, but then there’s this, all wrapped up in accountant-speak: “Your donations will qualify as long as they’re not more than four times what you have paid in tax in that tax year (6th April of one year to 5th April of the next). The tax could have been paid on income or capital gains.” In other words, you need to be a UK taxpayer in order to qualify for Gift Aid. Also, you need to make a Gift Aid declaration for us to be able to claim anything. You can do this online, on a piece of paper or verbally at the tills (where you will receive your Gift Aid declaration).

And finally

OK, we’re essentially asking you to pay ten per cent more for your tickets than you need to. Sadly, that’s the way Gift Aid has been set up by the Government. You are perfectly entitled to ignore the Gift Aid prices and pay the lower sums. You get the same great experience either way. 
But look at it this way: when you donate £1.75 on top of your ticket price, it unlocks £4.77 worth of Government money for us. In short, the benefit to us is larger than the cost to you.

I hope that’s gone some way towards explaining what Gift Aid is and why we bang on about it. Gift Aid is important to us, as it is to all charities. Gift Aid relies on your generosity stretching just a little further, but means the state puts extra dosh into conservation.

Go on, support our charity and become a Gift Aider!

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