Membership subscriptions

Membership subscriptions paid to a charity are not gifts but can be treated as such for Gift Aid purposes provided that the payment:

  • is for membership of the charity only
  • does not allow any personal use of the charity's services or facilities

Membership of a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) gives members personal access to services and facilities supplied by the CASC and so membership subscriptions to CASCs are specifically excluded by legislation from the Gift Aid scheme.

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Membership subscriptions that do qualify for Gift Aid

Membership only and no personal use of facilities

To be treated as a gift and qualify for Gift Aid, any subscription payments to your charity must be for membership only and not allow the personal use of facilities.

These conditions still allow members to:

  • receive periodic newsletters produced by your charity to explain its work
  • visit and view the work of your charity - for example a wildlife conservation charity allowing members admission to view its conservation work
  • take part in activities that form part of your charity's objectives - for example a youth organisation providing group craft workshops as part of its educational objectives

Any additional benefits provided to members must be within the set benefit limits which are based on the amount of the donation. For more information on these values see link below 'Find out more about providing benefits in return for donations: rules and limits'.

Find out more about meeting the conditions of the Gift Aid scheme

Find out more about providing benefits in return for donations: rules and limits

Family memberships

If your charity offers family membership, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will regard the membership subscription as a gift to your charity by an individual donor and it will qualify for Gift Aid, provided that the individual donor is included in the family membership and has given a Gift Aid declaration to your charity, and all the conditions of the Gift Aid scheme are satisfied.

Find out more about Gift Aid declarations

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Membership subscriptions that don't qualify for Gift Aid

Personal use of charity services or facilities

Any membership subscription that gives the member rights to personal use of your charity's services or facilities would not be treated as a gift, but as a payment for those services and so would not qualify for Gift Aid, for example using the equipment of a charitable sports centre.

Personal use includes:

  • providing coaching or tuition to individuals, whether alone or in a group
  • allowing members the free or discounted use of facilities that were not available on similar terms to non-members, for example use of a swimming pool or golf course
  • allowing members of a charitable film society to view films free or at a reduced admission charge

Paying other people's subscriptions

Payments made by an individual for somebody else's membership is not a gift to your charity and will therefore not qualify for Gift Aid, for example, a husband paying for a separate annual membership subscription for his wife. The payment will qualify if it is made by a parent or legal guardian on behalf of a child under the age of 18, or if it is for a family membership that includes the donor.

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Additional charges on top of a subscription

If your charity provides a basic membership and charges separately for other activities and benefits, only the basic membership subscription will qualify for Gift Aid. The additional charges won't qualify.

Example

A musical society charges a basic membership subscription of £180 a year, with additional rehearsal or playing charges of £10 per hour. In the first month that Jane joins the society she pays £45, of which £15 is her monthly membership subscription and £30 is for three additional playing sessions. Only £15 of the total £45 paid can qualify for Gift Aid.

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VAT and membership subscriptions

If your charity provides any benefits in return for a membership subscription, this is a business activity for VAT purposes and you must take this income into account when considering whether you're liable to be registered for VAT. If you are VAT registered, VAT at the standard rate may be due on your subscriptions.

Subscriptions to certain non-profit making organisations, such as trade unions, professional and other public interest bodies, and certain non-profit making sports clubs and associations may be exempt from VAT.

There are special rules for charities and other non-profit making bodies for accounting for VAT on subscriptions.

Find out more about the VAT treatment of membership subscriptions in VAT Notice 701/1

Find out more about how VAT applies to clubs and associations in VAT Notice 701/5

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Contacting the HMRC Charities Helpline

For more help you can contact the Charities Helpline.

Contact the Charities Helpline

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More useful links

Read more about membership subscriptions in the detailed guidance notes

How to make a Gift Aid repayment claim

Find out more about admissions to view charity property

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