Government response: Charity Commission reminds public of safer giving advice following funeral fraud

Following the sentencing yesterday of a funeral director for fraud and abuse of trust, resulting in a loss to charity of over £14,000, the commission has reminded the public and charities of its safer giving advice. While frauds of this nature are small in number in comparison to the number of charities and how much is given safely to charities each year, there are a number of easy ways to ensure that your donations go to good causes particularly when giving in memory of a loved one.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said:

“The public donate millions of pounds to good causes across the country in memory of loved ones. Yesterday’s sentencing should provide a deterrent to those who seek to abuse the trust of those who take comfort in making these donations. Our advice is not to be put off giving to charities but to check before you give and use our advice to ensure that only good causes benefit from your donations.”

For the public

  • when choosing which charity to donate to, check the charity is registered with the Charity Commission and find out more information about its activities and how to contact them on our online register

  • where possible, give directly to the charity either through the charity’s website or by setting up an online giving page with a well-known giving platform – this will reduce the risk which comes with collecting cash

  • check with the charity you wish to collect for, some offer specific guidance on how to set up on line giving and tributes in memory of a loved one with the specific charity

For funeral directors

  • the National Association of Funeral Directors provides specific advice for funeral directors when dealing with charitable donations which encourages the use of online charitable donations services wherever possible

  • some larger charities also provide specific advice and resources for funeral directors who are organising collections

  • if a cash or cheque donation is organised, use a sealed bucket or envelope – some charities can provide sealed envelopes

  • always ensure that at least two people oversee the collection so you can be sure how much is raised this should be communicated with the charity and the family of those who you are collecting in memory of

The Charity Commission publishes advice on safer giving and runs campaigns during periods of heightened giving.

The commission and others have established the Charity Sector Counter Fraud Group (CSCFG) to help improve the charity sector’s resilience to fraud.

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