Case Studies / Royal British Legion

Swiftaid and the Royal British Legion Collaborate to Benefit the UK's Armed Forces

A photograph showing a field of poppies

Charity Representative

Peter Honiball

Gift Aid Manager

Charity website

Swiftaid solution

Gift Aid Finder

The Royal British Legion (RBL) is the largest UK charity dedicated to supporting the Armed Forces community - veterans currently serving personnel and their families. The most recognised fundraiser is the annual Poppy Appeal, which remembers all those who lost their lives in service from the beginning of the First World War to the present day. The money raised during the Poppy Appeal goes towards supporting the Armed Forces community through hardship, injuries, and bereavement.

We spoke to Peter Honiball, RBL’s Gift Aid Manager, and asked him to share his experience working with Swiftaid to recover Gift Aid from the 2022 Poppy Appeal and the benefits this has brought to RBL.

What is your role within RBL?

As the Gift Aid Manager (working within the fundraising department), I complete the monthly claims and ensure we remain compliant with Gift Aid regulations.

How did you discover Swiftaid?

I belong to the Charity Tax Group, and one of the Swiftaid founders, David, has attended several meetings over the last few years to share what they offer, so I was very aware of them as a company.

Once we had investigated further and realised the benefits Swiftaid could bring to the charity, we accepted an opportunity to work with them.

What was your working relationship with Swiftaid at the start?

Last year (March 2023), the company that handles our contactless machines asked if we would share our 2022 Poppy Appeal data with Swiftaid as a trial. As the data was anonymous, RBL agreed. Swiftaid ran all our contactless donations against their database to trace missing Gift Aid for the 2022 Poppy Appeal.

What benefits has this brought?

Because a contactless donation is technically anonymous, it’s almost impossible to process Gift Aid donations without hundreds of hours manually sorting through many thousands of donations. Working with Swiftaid meant we had no additional admin as they handled the entire Gift Aid process, and HMRC paid us directly.

The most significant benefit is that we received a lot of money from unclaimed Gift Aid on the 2022 Poppy Appeal. Without Swiftaid, we wouldn’t have the time to claim the money as we don’t have the resources to do it manually.

How easy was it to integrate Swiftaid into your process?

As we’re a registered charity recognised by HMRC (a prerequisite for using the Swiftaid service), it was no problem at all. The Swiftaid team handled everything necessary to get it up and running, begin processing Gift Aid declarations, and submit claims to HMRC on our behalf.

How easy is it for customers to use?

It’s very straightforward. Customers are identified by a unique Payment Account Reference (PAR) linked to their payment cards. Individual donors grant Swiftaid the authority to generate Gift Aid declarations on their behalf for the tax year. This authorisation can be provided directly through Swiftaid’s website or when Gift Aid is added during a donation made via their partners.

Once the PAR is associated with the customer’s authorisation, whenever a donation is processed through a contactless terminal, the Swiftaid system recognises that the customer is on the database and will generate the declaration on behalf of the customer.

An email is sent to notify customers that Gift Aid is being added and inform them they can change their mind within 21 days. It also recommends that customers renew their authorisation for the next tax year (current legislation requires a new authorisation each year).

Last year, we introduced a QR code customers could scan to add Gift Aid by completing a Swiftaid authorisation at the point of donation.

We previously received around 1/3 of the amount of Gift Aid compared to what we received using Swiftaid.

What is your advice to other companies considering working with Swiftaid?

Swiftaid is a brilliant way of solving a problem most charities have: claiming Gift Aid when the process is so labour-intensive and staffing resources are limited.

To give this further context, when we use paper declarations, it can take me at least two (often three) months to get them up and running to make a claim, so, on average, we [previously] received around 1/3 of the amount of Gift Aid compared to what we received using Swiftaid.

Using Swiftaid means charities can make much better use of their time and benefit more from the Gift Aid scheme.

Are there any negatives to working with Swiftaid?

A perceived negative is that a small percentage of the Gift Aid recovered goes to Swiftaid. But compared to the volume of recovered funds, it’s worth every penny.

Are there plans to work with Swiftaid in the future?

It’s already happening. Shortly after we agreed to share our data, we could see how beneficial it would be and decided to continue working with Swiftaid.

Our team is looking forward to learning how much Gift Aid can be recovered from the 2023 Poppy Appeal and future RBL initiatives.

Would you recommend them and why?

Yes, without question. It’s efficient, you’ll save time and resources, and, more importantly, your charity will have more funds for worthy causes.

Peter concluded by saying …

Swiftaid is so innovative and has been an absolute game changer for us in terms of increased funds to benefit our many deserving causes. That’s extra Gift Aid money we wouldn’t have recovered without them, which is now being used to support veterans and our serving Armed Forces.

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep updated 💌

Whoops, you need to enter all your details correctly