Gift Aid and lecture admission

To qualify for Gift Aid – and keep membership fees down – we’re no longer charging non-members for admission to our lectures, apart from the Antony Dale annual lecture at the Pavilion, when every audience member must buy a ticket so we can cover the cost of hiring the Music Room and Great Kitchen. Instead, anyone who wishes to contribute is free to make a donation.
Gift Aid is a government scheme that allows charities to claim back the tax paid on donations. If we can claim Gift Aid on members’ subscriptions, it increases their value to the Society by 20 per cent, at no extra cost to the members.
But there’s a catch. Gift Aid is only allowed on donations, in other words money given to a charity to pursue its charitable objects. If we charge non-members for admission to lectures, the tax authorities view members’ subscriptions not as donations but as payment for the lecture programme. And that means no Gift Aid.
We earn very little from admission charges to non-members – much less than we will earn from Gift Aid on subscriptions. That is the reason for the change. But we have been asked why members should bother renewing if they can hear the lectures free of charge anyway.
The Society works hard to achieve its charitable objects and it relies on its members’ subscriptions to cover the majority of the cost of what we do. We believe that most members join the Society to support all its activities and to have a say in how it is run, not simply to go to the lectures.
They also receive updates on our work and items about local conservation and development, free day passes to English Heritage and National Trust properties and notifications of lectures and events of interest in the city and its environs. Members who are 40 per cent taxpayers can also use their self-assessment tax returns to claim back 20 per cent of their subscriptions.
We hope all our members will continue to renew their subscriptions each year. We will also welcome visitors who come to hear our lectures and hope that they will perhaps make a donation – or, better still, become members themselves.

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