St Mary's Hospice @stmaryshospice
Charities encouraged to look down the ‘Back of the Sofa’
A new service has launched that promises to find spare cash belonging to charities that they were previously unaware existed. Back of the Sofa offers advice and all the necessary forms for charities to apply for discounts on overheads, claim rebates and maximise available tax relief. It also offers fundraising ideas that, importantly, do not rely on asking supporters to make further donations. The service is free to use and aimed primarily as an online tool for the hundreds of thousands of finance directors and volunteer treasurers working in the UK's charity sector.
As well as how to save time and money when buying utilities, Back of the Sofa pinpoints where reductions may have been historically overlooked and can be reclaimed. Some charities, for example, are mistakenly charged the wrong rate of VAT on their energy bills and this, in turn, results in Climate Change Levy being automatically slapped on top. However in the majority of cases both of these overpayments can be backdated four years which, if successful, effectively gives the charity a year's worth of free energy.
St. Mary's Hospice in Ulverston recently used Back of the Sofa to identify incorrect charges totalling over six thousand pounds made by SSE between 2014 and 2016 which, once was pointed out to the energy firm, was quick to be refunded.
Suzi Lake, Head of Finance & Administration at St Mary’s Hospice, said: “We recently used Back ofthe sofa to look at the VAT we had paid on some of our historical utility bills. The process was really easy, we simply filled in a form and then they did everything for us. Within just a few weeks we received a rebate from our supplier for £6,417, which will fund all the care and treatment for a patient on our Inpatient unit. When only a small percentage of our costs come from government funding, every penny counts, so this windfall will really make a difference. I would recommend all charities try this service.”
Fundraising ideas include the Gift Aid from previous donations that the vast majority of Higher Rate and Top Rate taxpayers omit from their tax returns which, again, can be backdated four years. A collective switching service for home energy bills is another feature, allowing charities to receive the commission that would otherwise be paid to a price comparison website - whilst helping their supporters benefit from the lowest gas and electricity tariffs at the same time: a win-win.
Nick Heath, Back of the Sofa founder, commented: “Charities are literally sitting on pockets of cash that could be freed-up and put to better use. It’s all about drawing attention to the opportunities that exist and making the process as painless as possible. Often it’s case of ‘if you don't ask, you don't get’ or just waking up to the fact that - even for those with charitable status - there’s no reward for loyalty when it comes to utilities. Any charity looking to switch allegiance can now do so safe in the knowledge that help is at hand from a free resource with their best interests at its heart.”