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UK postcode format trap – unlock more Gift Aid revenue for your charity by capturing the right postcode when logging donations

UK Postcode Format Tips

The postcode is the most important piece of information you need to gather from your donors when they are signing up for Gift Aid. There are many common mistakes made when capturing someone’s postcode, so we thought we’d explain how the UK postcode format works, and offer some tips for ensuring that you get it right.

Gift Aid postcode being entered incorrectly is one of the main reasons for rejection when making claims/submissions to HMRC. The useful tips that follow will ensure you capture the correct code!

The UK postcode format

There are some simple rules to follow regards the actual format of the postcode. As in, what is a valid code, and what isn’t. UK Postcodes are split into two parts; the Outward Code (The first bit), and the Inward Code (the second/last bit).

Outward code

The outward code in the UK postcode format can be between 2 and 4 characters. It ALWAYS begins with a letter (sometimes geographically relevant, like M for Manchester, but not always). It can end with either a letter OR a number. Most often, the beginning part, the outward code, will end with a number. In some London districts in particular, you can find postcodes with letters, as they essentially ran out of unique combinations. An example is EC4M 8AD. Whilst this might look odd to those of us outside of London, it’s completely valid.

Inward code

The last bit, is the easiest and most consistent formatting-wise, but the part that is most often captured incorrectly. It is ALWAYS three characters long, ALWAYS begins with a number, and almost always ends with 2 letters. The most common mistake we see is a letter O instead of a number zero 0 at the beginning of the last part of a postcode. The first digit of the last part can only ever be 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9. The next most common error is mis-hearing the last two characters, for example hearing an N as an M, or an H as an 8.

One big tip for the last part of the UK postcode format that few people know, is ‘CIKMOV’. The last part of the postcode can NEVER contain C, I, K, M, O, or V. Which means if you think you heard M, it was probably N – V was likely to be B, and so on.

Capturing tips

When capturing your donor’s details, if you’re doing this hand-written (either you or they are writing), be sure to check over what has been written with the other party to check for any likely errors, bearing in mind the above formatting rules.

When capturing electronically, say at the Point of Sale in a charity shop, be sure to use a system such as tengoPOS, which has the UK postcode database built in. Royal Mail‘s data can be out of date, especially for new-builds. If the lookup system can’t find the address from the postcode? The most likely reason is that what has been typed in is incorrect. If you double-check and it isn’t incorrect, you can manually enter the address.

Know your patch

It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the postcode beginnings that cover your area. See below a map showing all postcode districts across the UK with their UK postcode format starting letters.

UK postcode format for Gift Aid – summary

Getting the postcode wrong when capturing donor details can lose your charity money, so it’s important to get it right. Remember:

  • Check it and check it again – be sure to consider formatting rules and check the code is valid.
  • Remember CIKMOV – these letters cannot be in the last 3 characters of a postcode.
  • Be wary of using letters in place of numbers, and vice-versa – many people say ‘oh’ to indicate a zero, even in their phone numbers. 8 and ‘aitch’ (H) are another common mix-up.

Following these simple rules will ensure you capture accurate info. There are many companies also offering services to validate or cleanse your existing data to fix any capture errors, so that Gift Aid can be claimed on the relevant donations.

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Charity Software, how to choose?

Charity Software choices
Charity Software choices

When looking for Charity Software, it can be hard to know what to search for. You know you need to log donations, possibly sell items of bought-in or donated goods, and deal with your supporters face-to-face, over the phone, and online. You also need to keep their details updated, especially regarding Gift Aid, and their contact preferences (GDPR). To handle all of the above, what is it that you need?

Deciding what to search for and which way to turn can be daunting. So we thought we’d run through some of the options and terminology, to help you to find the right charity software.

Donor Database/CRM

You will want an over-arching ‘master’ database, where all information about your donors, and interactions with them, would be stored. This could be called Charity CRM, Fundraising CRM, Donor Database, Donor/Supporter Manager, or Gift Aid Manager – some clients generally refer to the whole ‘admin’ area of our systems as the ‘back-office’ or ‘back-end’.

Searching for these things on Google can be hit and miss, largely because there are so many different terms. A good place to start for finding suppliers, and seeing what they can offer, is HMRCs list of Charity Software suppliers. Other listings such as the Charity Retail Association directory aren’t as comprehensive, as suppliers must pay them to be listed and promoted on their site.

EPoS (Charity Tills)

If you process any donations, sales, or transactions in charity shops or charitable visitor attractions, you’ll need an EPoS system (Electronic Point of Sale, the techy name for a till system). Finding an EPoS system is easier than finding a CRM system. This is because there are fewer relevant search terms. Also, a few key EPoS suppliers have been around for a long time and are the market leaders.

Most commonly, people search for ‘Gift Aid EPoS’ or ‘Charity Tills’. If the EPoS is for charity shops/retail, you can search for ‘Charity Shop Tills ‘. If it’s a charitable visitor attraction, search for ‘Charitable Visitor Attraction Tills‘. Be sure to get a system that can handle Gift Aid as well as all the standard EPoS functions. Standard functions usually include Stock, Products, Memberships, Loyalty Schemes, Special Offers, etc.

The price of EPoS Equipment is much cheaper these days, so it’s preferable to buy your own equipment. Be wary of paying excessive amounts for rental or lease agreements on equipment.

Websites & Online donations

Charity websites are probably the hardest thing to find specific providers for. It might help to find a website of another charity that you like and that has what you need. Usually, the designers will have a link in the footer so you can contact them. Opt for a company that can build a website that is fully integrated with your charity CRM and can process donations.

You can always add links to donation platforms if you don’t have an integrated website. This way, you don’t miss out on funds from online donors. Services such as JustGiving, or TripGiving, can easily be linked to from your website. TripGiving syncs automatically to both our Gift Aid EPoS and Fundraising CRM software systems.

Gift Aid

Whatever solution(s) you are looking at, you will want to ensure they’re capable of processing Gift Aid. Even if you’re looking to purchase an EPoS till for your cafe, it’s always beneficial to be able to take donations and Gift Aid them. You should be able to do this whether face-to-face, online; or anywhere that you interact with supporters and potential donors. Be sure to choose a supplier who has integrated with HMRC for the submission of electronic Gift Aid, a list of which you can find on their website here.

One System To Rule Them All

Whatever you choose, when looking at all of the options, there’s one thing that’s most important of all. Be sure each element actually talks to each other! Many charities have software systems covering the key areas discussed here, but they aren’t actually integrated with each other. The best option is to choose a platform that has one master database, so any changes made on your website, EPoS system, or Fundraising CRM are all completely in sync. Due to the GDPR legislation and the Fundraising Preference Service, this is especially important. Your charity can get in trouble for contacting people if they don’t want to be contacted. If they inform you, in your charity shop, for example, your fundraising system/team needs to know about this straight away.

Integrated Charity Software

Another example of why this is important is online ticket/membership sales. If you sell tickets to your visitor attraction online, your EPoS system should know about it automatically. This way you can validate tickets automatically when scanning them from your visitor’s phone or print-out.

Pricing Transparency

There’s one unwritten rule of pretty much any ‘shopping’, both personally and for business. That is, if you can’t easily find out how much something is going to cost, it’s going to be expensive. If a supplier isn’t showing their pricing, it’s because they don’t want to be compared easily to the competition, and don’t want to scare you off from making an enquiry. Be sure to choose a provider that has clear pricing displayed on their website. There’s no point wasting time looking at solutions only to find out that you can’t afford them.

Charity Software Summary

We hope that you find this guide helpful! Of course, we would be delighted to provide a no-obligation demo of the above solutions, that Tengo Software provide. We have one system covering all areas, that’s simple, low-cost, and easy to use. Contact us today if you’d like to find out more or book a demo. All of our pricing for software and equipment can be found in our Schedule of Rates and Online Store.

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Interest free finance available to all UK charities

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tengo Software are delighted to announce that we are offering interest-free credit to all UK Charities.

There is very little to be pleased about when Covid is causing lock-downs and reduced revenue-flow for your Charity. Tengo has been supporting its customers since the start, and now can help non-customers too, who want to take advantage of lock-down to improve systems, or save money by replacing expensive Charity Shop software and Fundraising CRM contracts with a cheaper alternative that is being used by many charities all over the UK – see some of the things our users have to say here.

The interest free finance is available to any UK Charity on purchases of Hardware and Software Licences combined.

If you would like to discuss the options available and find out more, please contact us today!

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BIG items sold, with small amount of hassle

CT Furniture, part of the Community Transport charity, supports local communities by selling donated high quality, second-hand furniture and electrical equipment at affordable prices, to individuals & families across the West Midlands and in the North East.

For over a decade, CT have been using Tengo Software’s specialist Charity Deliveries and Collections software to effortlessly manage the booking of deliveries of items purchased in store, along with the collection of items from donors for later sale in store, and Gift Aid claims.

CT Furniture shop in Blyth, Northumberland
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Tengo design quality branding and website for GEMS Charity

A couple of months ago, GEMS Charity approached Tengo to not only design a new website for them, but to completely overhaul their brand and online presence. In double-quick time, Tengo re-branded, produced new logos for all on-line and print media, and produced a brand-new website, including content re-written by Tengo Consultancy.

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HMRC confirm procedure on end of year Gift Aid letters due to Covid-19 Coronavirus

HMRC's stance on the end of year Gift Aid letter deadline in view of Covid-19 Coronavirus restrictions
HMRC’s stance on the end of year Gift Aid letter deadline in view of Covid-19 Coronavirus restrictions

Many of our clients have contacted us as they’re worried about meeting HMRC’s deadline for sending out annual Gift Aid letters, given the current situation regards the Covid-19 Coronavirus. As a result of the virus many Charities have the bulk of or all of their staff working from home, and many have also been furloughed until such time as charity retailers are allowed to begin trading again.

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A guide to sending end of year Gift Aid letters for donated goods

end of year gift aid letters
Posting end of year Gift Aid letters.

When you sell donated goods on behalf of people bringing them in to your Charity Shops, HMRC require you to contact anyone with end of year Gift Aid letters who has generated £20 or more’s worth of sales to let them know how much money has been raised. For those with less than £20 worth of sales, you need to contact them every 3 years.

Each tax year, this must be done by no later than the 31st of May. Full guidelines along with a template letter can be found on HMRC’s website here. The letters can be sent by email or by post.

It can be quite a task to aggregate all the data and complete the mailing of end of year Gift Aid letters – but Tengo Software’s Charity Shop Software makes the process as easy as it can be.

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Tengo’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak

Many of our customers have contacted us with questions relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, so we are summarising our position here along with what we are offering to help our clients out during this concerning time.

Fortunately, the team at Tengo Software and our infrastructure is already designed in such a way that remote working is commonplace – as a precaution, all of our team are currently being instructed to work from home. All services are running as normal and will continue to do so even if the government impose further restrictions. Any on-site meetings scheduled in will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but installation, training, and any meetings can be effectively conducted remotely.

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Give the Gift of Gift Aid

Gift of Gift Aid

Do you love your local charity shop? Why not give them the gift of being able to claim, or claim more Gift Aid on donated goods. Tengo Software are offering a limited time offer of 3 months FREE use of our industry leading Charity Shop Software!

What benefit will this give to my favourite Charity Shop? Well, essentially it means they’ll make more money by doing exactly what they already do – selling on goods generously donated by members of the public. The Government gives charities an extra 25% on top of those sales proceeds under the Gift Aid scheme, but many Charity Shops are still not taking full advantage of this and some are not claiming this extra money at all – this is where Tengo Software can help!

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How to claim Gift Aid in Charity Shops on Donated Goods

If you’re new to the Charity Retail world, and you want to know how you claim gift aid in charity shops, here’s a short guide to the process of claiming Gift Aid on donated goods.

how to claim gift aid in charity shops

One key thing to note about claiming gift aid on donated goods, it’s the person who donates the goods to the charity against which a Gift Aid claim is made. To claim Gift Aid in charity shops on donated goods, you need to track each item that is donated with a unique reference, and record this when it’s sold – then collating the information in to a submission to HMRC to claim the Gift Aid revenue.

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