Clever computing puts millions into charities' hands

June 01, 2020

Charities can now begin accessing millions of pounds more in donations thanks to a small shift in how people can donate.

Gift Aid is a UK government tax relief which allows registered charities to claim the tax the donor has already paid on the funds.

For every £10 that is donated to a UK charity, the charity can claim a further £2.50 in Gift Aid.

But in any year, more than £500 million - the Gift Aid on about a third of all donations - goes unclaimed because both donors and charities haven't got the time or inclination to do the paperwork needed to claim it.

Now, thanks to experts in mathematical modelling, systems engineering, cyber security and a software company, that is about to change.

In a paper published in the journal Formal Aspects of Computing, the researchers explain how they developed their model, called Swiftaid, which was launched by Streeva. The Swiftaid project was awarded by InnovateUK to Streeva and the University of Surrey.

Swiftaid has been recognised by HMRC as the first solution to automatically attach Gift Aid to contactless donations.

Lead author, Dr David Williams at the University of Portsmouth's School of Computing, said: "To our knowledge, this is the first time formal methods have been applied to any system of charitable giving."

Formal methods apply mathematical rigour to model and analyse systems against essential requirements. They are typically used in safety critical sectors, such as defence and aerospace, but Dr Williams and his colleagues have found value in using these advanced techniques in broader settings.

Dr Williams added: "It is extremely satisfying when our research has a real impact. In this case, we were able to improve the design of the Swiftaid system, making it easier and more secure for donors, charities and HMRC to provide added support to those most in need via Gift Aid.

"The inconvenience of having to complete a Gift Aid declaration form by hand every time someone donates often puts people off. Swiftaid automates the Gift Aid process to remove this barrier, vastly streamlining the process and unlocking millions in extra funding for worthy causes."

One of the research co-authors, Professor Steve Schneider, director of Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, was principal investigator. He said: "We're proud of what we have achieved in this project and the benefits it will bring to charitable giving. We've seen where formal methods has added real value and increased assurance in the Swiftaid system."

To use Swiftaid, donors create an account via and securely add one or more of their contactless debit cards. Every time a person donates, they can add the 25 per cent Gift Aid by touching their phone to a reader, similar to the contactless payments used on London Underground. The platform securely informs HMRC on behalf of both the donor and the charity so that the Gift Aid can be claimed.

Swiftaid is automated through a donor's email address and will soon be accessible via mobile phones.

Another researcher involved, Dr Salaheddin Darwish at Royal Holloway University of London, said: "This work is one of the few attempts to improve the robustness and assurance of the charity system using formal modelling and will enable charities to apply Gift Aid legislation efficiently and effectively and maximise their benefits."

David Michael CEO and founder of Streeva said: "To collaborate and co-author a paper with leading academics is definitely a huge achievement and a proud moment. We have worked extremely hard to make sure we are creating a fully robust automatic Gift Aid solution for UK charities that has the assurance, trust and rigour behind it."

University of Surrey

Related Cyber Security Articles from Brightsurf:

No honor among cyber thieves
A backstabbing crime boss and thousands of people looking for free tutorials on hacking and identity theft were two of the more interesting findings of a study examining user activity on two online 'carding forums,' illegal sites that specialize in stolen credit card information.

Cyber expert on 'insider threat' attacks
Dr Duncan Hodges, Senior Lecturer in Cyberspace Operations, Cranfield University, is actively researching insider threats such as the recent Twitter attack.

An agenda for multidisciplinary cyber risk research
The science of cyber risk is inherently interdisciplinary, argue Gregory Falco and colleagues in this Policy Forum, and no single academic field on its own can adequately address related problems.

Preventing cyber security attacks lies in strategic, third-party investments, study finds
Companies interested in protecting themselves and their customers from cyber-attacks need to invest in themselves and the vendors that handle their data, according to new research from American University.

First cyber agility framework to train officials developed to out-maneuver cyber attacks
To help train government and industry organizations on how to prevent cyberattacks, as part of a research project for the US Army, scientists at The University of Texas at San Antonio, developed the first framework to score the agility of cyber attackers and defenders.

Cyber of the fittest: Researchers develop first cyber agility framework to measure attacks
The framework proposed by the researchers will help government and industry organizations visualize how well they out-maneuver attacks over time.

Photons trained for optical fibre obstacle course will deliver stronger cyber security
Researchers from the NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research & Development Laboratory demonstrate a way to improve quantum key distribution over fiber networks.

At least 57 negative impacts from cyber-attacks
Cyber-security researchers have identified a total of at least 57 different ways in which cyber-attacks can have a negative impact on individuals, businesses and even nations, ranging from threats to life, causing depression, regulatory fines or disrupting daily activities

UBC study: Publicizing a firm's security levels may strengthen security over time
New research from the UBC Sauder School of Business has quantified the security levels of more than 1,200 Pan-Asian companies in order to determine whether increased awareness of one's security levels leads to improved defense levels against cybercrime.

Improving cyber security in harsh environments
Many people don't worry about the security of their personal information until it's too late.

Read More: Cyber Security News and Cyber Security Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to