Acts 435 was inspired by the works of the early church, as described in Acts 4:35. The early disciples of the risen Christ shared their possessions, and passed money to the apostles to give to anyone who had need.
Acts 435 seeks to work primarily through local churches and be a resource for them as they reach out to their local community. Local churches and charities are well placed to know who is in genuine need in their community, a key part of how Acts 435 works, and also help spread the word to potential donors in their congregations and networks.
The organisation and administration of Acts 435 is funded entirely by Gift Aid reclaimed on applicable donations.
When you donate online you are asked to say whether you are a tax-payer or not. The charity's administrative costs are kept to an absolute minimum with a very small team - just 5 team members (Executive Director, Operations Director, Partnerships Director, Digital Communications Officer and Admin Assistant), all working part time. There is no fundraising department nor fundraisers employed. Set-up costs were covered by a private funder but since 2016 the running costs of the charity are WHOLLY funded by gift-aid collected on donations making Acts 435 a fully self-sustaining charity. We are not aware of any other charity that functions in this way.
The current cap on requests is £150 for specific items (eg. a cooker, a bed) and £100 for more general requests (eg. clothing, food, household goods). This is to reflect that it is very difficult to source some items for just £100. The increase to £150 was introduced in April 2020. People can apply for help up to three times, per household.
Many of the items that are being requested will cost £150 or just over. In some of these cases, the shop sourcing the goods drops the price to help the individual/family, in others the individual/family raises the remainder to make up the amount required.
We encourage our Advocates (the church/charity volunteers) to post smaller requests so we do have ones for £50, £90 Debt Relief Orders, £80 etc. but the majority are still at the higher level. This is because many applicants are in great need and, understandably, Advocates want to get as much help as possible for them to ease their situation - eg. if they only have the clothes they are standing in, £100 will see them as best equipped as possible.
With Acts 435 100% of your donation goes directly to the people in need. You can choose who to give your money to, and all of it will go directly to that person. Our method of working through local churches and charities means that there are trained and trusted people on the ground verifying that the need is genuine.
Church advocates are able to post 'thank you' messages from an individual applicant who has been helped and this will be sent, by email, to those donors who gave to that particular individual, giving you direct feedback as to what happens to your money.
100% of what is donated via Acts 435 goes directly to those in need. If you Gift Aid your donation, it helps towards the running costs of the charity which are kept to an absolute minimum with no fundraising department nor fund-raisers employed. The credit card transaction charges on your donation are also covered within our administrative costs to ensure absolutely every penny of your donation goes to the people in need.
SagePay is our main payment processor, accepting most debit and credit cards. It only charges £30 a month for this service (and currently no charge per transaction). Our Merchant Bank then charges reasonable rates at 1.5% for most credit cards and just 26 pence per transaction for a debit card.
For donors who prefer to store their card details and not have to enter them on each transaction we offer PayPal which is widely used. You select this option once you start the process of making your donation through SagePay. PayPal offers us an excellent charity rate of 1.4% per transaction plus 20 pence per transaction.
In January 2014 we asked our regular PayPal and non-PayPal donors if they were happy with the way we process their donations. The overwhelming conclusion was Yes - the PayPal givers want to always use their PayPal accounts, those who use SagePay are happy to enter their card details each time and don't want to be forced to use PayPal, and we are very happy not to have the responsibility of storing credit card details!
If the full amount isn't given by the expiry date, the church advocate may decide to extend the request up to a maximum of one month to give chance for the remainder to come in. The applicant will always get whatever has been received though in some cases, where the request is for something specific, it won't be enough on its own to buy that item. In those cases, we advise the advocates to use it in the most appropriate way for that particular individual/family.
As it happens, a high percentage of requests posted are met in full by donors, and those that are not met tend to be more 'quality of life' requests or where £150 (our cap for requests) is clearly insufficient for the need - eg. flight, driving lessons, etc.
We are able to use general funds (such as standing orders and Gift Aid receipts) to meet some requests before they expire after one month on the website.
We allow each church to manage the giving of the funds/ purchase of the item in accordance with their usual policies and procedures, along with guidelines from us. Church advocates know each applicant and whether they can trust them with the cash to use for the required item, or whether it is best to purchase it on their behalf. We encourage church advocates to accompany the applicant and purchase the item together to ensure both that the funds are used correctly and that there is some pastoral care for the individual/family in need.
Acts 435 does not have the facility to receive donated items and store them. We make sure our church advocates are aware of the different furniture resources available to them like freecycle and the Furniture Reuse Network. Some of our participating churches also run Furniture Banks and source need from there first, only posting an Acts 435 request where they do not have those items of furniture in stock. Others are networking with local charities to purchase cheap good quality furniture with the money raised through Acts 435.
We run with a very small Head Office function so even if you have an item and live in the same town or city as the person requesting one, we are unable to coordinate matching your gifted item with the need. We realise this may be frustrating but we simply do not have the capacity to manage this. Thank you for your understanding.
We can’t offer long term help, or huge amounts of money, but we hope we can help with emergencies. These organisations may be able to offer more help with longer-term solutions:
We need more churches to become involved with Acts 435, and help people in need in your community. If you’d like to know more about getting involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. Acts 435 is run through churches and local charities and we usually ask that applicants are known to the church/charity or to a referring organisation they have connected with in order to make a request. This means that we can vouch for the people asking for money and minimise fraud.
Individual applicants applying for help must live or work in the local church's wider community and be known to the church or participating charity or to an organisation the church has partnered with to reach more people in need. Where the people are not well-known to our advocates, Acts 435 requires that they produce proof of their identity before the advocate posts their need. Systems are in place to identify anyone who might try and go from church to church to seek help through Acts 435.
You may see a number of requests on our website for the Debt Relief Order fee of £90. Churches and charities are finding Acts 435 a particularly good resource for this as not many other funders will consider it and yet it can make a huge difference to those in poverty. Please see here: http://acts435.org.uk/blog/2013/10/debt-relief-orders-and-bankruptcy-explained.html for more information on how Debt Relief Orders and Bankruptcy work.