Press release: Safeguard charity fundraising, Charity watchdog reminds charities

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, is issuing this alert to charities as regulatory advice under section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011 – it is particularly relevant for charities which engage in public fundraising.

The commission, the independent regulator of charities is reminding charity trustees to ensure that their fundraising activities are lawful. Trustees need to be vigilant to the potential for abuse or misuse of charitable funds by individuals who may use the good name of a charity to raise or divert funds intended for charitable purposes for private benefit or criminal purposes – including terrorism. The reminder comes during Counter-Terrorism Awareness week (24-30 November) where the Police have highlighted the risk of abuse of charity for terrorist financing.

Although most people who fundraise and support charities have honest intentions, there are some unscrupulous people who will abuse a charity’s name and exploit the trust and confidence the public has in charities.

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

Trustees are ultimately responsible for ensuring that authorised fundraising activities undertaken in the name of their charity comply with the legal and regulatory framework. The public needs to have confidence that the money it donates goes to the intended charity and is legitimately used to help those people in need. It is a serious regulatory issue when any money donated to charity does not go to the intended charity or cause for legitimate work, even more so where the funds could be used for terrorist purposes. We do not want to deter the public from donating to charities and the vital work that they do, however, trustees need to be alert to the risks of abuse and take appropriate and prudent action.

Trustees may not be able to detect and stop all instances of abuse, but there are steps and safeguards that charities can put in place to help detect any suspicious activities, which make it more difficult for them to be abused and help reassure the public that they can donate safely to fundraisers and charities.

  • if you give people who fundraise for you official charity material, such as identity badges, collecting tins and official charity tabards, make sure you collect everything back as soon as you can. You should check that nothing is missing and that collection tins and buckets haven’t been tampered with*.

  • remember that people who fundraise for you by conducting street or house to house collections need a licence to do so.

  • make clear to fundraisers that they need to comply with the fundraising regulations

  • if people fundraise for you, consider providing your volunteers with a basic information pack or leaflet about what they must do and should not do if they are collecting on your behalf

  • if your charity never uses or does not want to encourage donations in the form of cash or street collections, let your donors and supporters know this by making it clear on your website and social media

  • if you are made aware that supporters are collecting on your behalf without a licence, do not ignore it; contact them to let them know this is not permitted and that they need a licence. Under the provisions of the Charities Act 1992 a charity may also apply to court for an injunction to prevent a person from fundraising without its consent

  • if you suspect collectors are collecting illegally report it to the appropriate authorities – such as the Police, Action Fraud and the commission.

*The Code of Fundraising Practice states: To ensure that efficient and effective monitoring of all collections takes place, the issue and return of all materials connected with the collection OUGHT to be recorded. And Arrangements OUGHT to be made for the receipt of the collection proceeds and all used and unused materials connected with it at a specified point authorised by the organiser of the collection.



Notes to Editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.

  2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and 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

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