Press release: Give safely this Christmas – make sure your donations reach ‘The right hands’

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities, is encouraging members of the public to give safely this Christmas and help ensure that donations end up in ‘the right hands’.

Thousands of people donate, volunteer, lend a hand, and give others a hand up – especially at Christmas. Volunteers hit the streets, colleagues run bake sales and friends run marathons to raise much needed funds that help support charity. However, among the Christmas cheer and kind-hearted intentions, clever fraudsters find ways of duping the public and putting charitable donations into their own back pockets.

Over the holiday period the commission is running a campaign encouraging the public to make sure their donation ends up in the right hands; the hands of genuine collectors, and ultimately the hands of those who most need help.

Safer giving tips will be promoted on GOV.UK and through social media using the hashtag #therighthands.

Members of the public are encouraged to take certain steps before donating to charity, such as checking a charity is registered, looking for formal ID badges and permission to collect (with charity collectors), making sure a site is secure if donating online, and using a search engine to access a charity’s website rather than following a link given to you.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications said;

We know how urgently many charities need our donations at this time of year and how generous the British public are. But fraudsters are increasingly using some very clever methods to trick us – methods that seem to reinforce their legitimacy as a charity, like giving away wristbands or having a professional looking website.

It really doesn’t take long to go through the quick ‘Safe giving’ check list, look in the charity register, or postpone your donation to a time when you feel more comfortable and secure. And don’t feel embarrassed to ask questions of charities, even on your doorstep. Genuine charities understand – they too would rather donations end up ‘in the right hands’.

So how can you ensure that your money ends up in the right hands?

Whether you’re donating straight to a collector, online, or in the mail, there are steps you can take to ensure you know where your giving is going.

The wrong hands The right hands
Charity name not listed on the register of charities* (see end note, or listed as ‘Removed’ Charity listed as ‘Registered’ on the register of charities (Charity Commission website)
Collector can’t display a current licence to collect in the area Collector has permission from local authority, Police or private landowner (eg in malls)
Collector has no charity ID or name badge Collector wears a formal ID badge
The collection tin is unsealed or makeshift, eg an ice cream container The collection tin is sealed
The collector is unable to give details about the charity’s role and stated aims The collector knows what the charity does and can give examples of its work
Fundraising materials don’t feature the charity’s name, registration number and a landline phone number Any fundraising materials have clear contact and registration details, including a landline phone number (be wary of mobile numbers)
When asking for donations online, there is no padlock symbol in the URL bar (to indicate a secure transaction) Online donations are processed through secure and verified sites, with the padlock symbol in the URL bar
An unsolicited email, often with spelling mistakes, asks for bank details, personal information or account login details, or links straight to a transaction page Only registered email subscribes are contacted, or encouraged to type the URL in directly or use a search engine to access the charity’s website
Collection bags for clothes and household goods are poorly branded and don’t contain registration information Collection bags include the charity’s registration information, contact details and information about the charity’s work

Don’t be pressured to give to a collector immediately. If you’re in any doubt, donate directly to charity through other channels.

If, after reading this information, you suspect that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or see

If you suspect you’ve donated money to a bogus charity online, please contact your bank immediately.

Download The right hands resources

We have created a series of resources which you can use to help share Safer giving advice.



Notes to Editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
  • charities know what they have to do
  • the public know what charities do
  • charities are held to account


  1. charities with an income of less than £5,000 per year do not have to be registered with the Charity Commission

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