Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gift aid starting to pan out

After some initial teething trouble, I think we've now basically got the hang of running the gift aid system in our charity shops, and the first actual funds should appear in our bank account 6-8 weeks from now.

If you donate any items for sale and you are a UK income tax payer, please do complete a gift aid form, as it means an extra 28 pence for every pound raised when your donation is sold at no extra cost to you.

The process works on a bar code system. We take a sheet of bar code labels, all labels on a sheet having the same unique number. One label is stuck on your form and the others go on the price tags we put on your donations. When a donated item is sold, we scan the price tag at the till and the amount and donor number are recorded. During the night the till "phones home" and uploads details of everything scanned that day.

Once a reasonable sum has been recorded against your donor number, we print out and send you a letter telling you how much has been raised, and checking that you still wish to donate it to the branch. 24 days later (to give you a chance to demand your money!) we can put in a claim to HMRC for an amount equivalent to the tax you paid on that amount of income.

The need for the letters seems quite wasteful, but unfortunately they are a legal requirement if we want to operate the system, and there is a facility to avoid printing any which would cost more to post than the amount we would gain if we put in a claim.

It all sounds very complicated, but the degree of automation means it's actually harder to explain, than to do. Once the system has been running for a reasonable length of time, it should generate a steady amount of additional income as the gift aid forms come in and our claims go out to HMRC.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Injured cat

I've just been contacted by the 24hour emergency vet to let me know one of the Animal Welfare Officers has brought a cat in for first aid there. She'll have pain relief and emergency care overnight then one of our volunteer drivers will transfer her to our own clinic for further treatment in the morning. They say they're pretty sure she has at least one broken leg, but I should have more details, including a description, by tomorrow evening.

If a cat goes missing it's important to phone round vets—including the emergency out of hours vet, who may be some distance away—as injured animals are normally taken to the closest available private vet for first aid. Depending on how busy they are and whether the cat is found during the middle of the night, there may be some delay before the local branch is notified.

After a fracture repair operation cats will normally need to be confined for several weeks to avoid putting further strain on the repaired section of bone, which could cause the ends to move out of alignment. They also need to come back to the clinic for periodic re-checks. We are always in need of foster homes where they can be kept during this recovery period as it's a waste of funds and a drain on the kennel staff time to put them into our cattery, and it's also much more pleasant for the cats to be in home-like surroundings where they can have more attention to help pass the time.

If you might be interested in fostering cats for the branch, please email

Sadly she deteriorated in the next few days, and the vets took the decision to put her to sleep as they did not think she would survive an operation to amputate the leg with the worst injuries.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Do you know this cat?

She was reported to us as a possible poorly stray, but examination showed that the fur on her throat had been recently shaved—most likely in order to do a blood test for hyperthyroidism as her thyroid gland feels enlarged. She's very thin, which is why the finder was concerned and phoned us, but this is probably due to the thyroid condition. As she obviously does have an owner who is attending to her medical care, we released her again, exactly where she was picked up. 

If she's your cat, or you know who owns her, we'd be very grateful if you could let us know whether she's returning home regularly for her medication. If not, we can arrange to catch her again and bring her to you.