Donations are a key source of income for charities. Annual research by the Charities Aid Foundation suggests around £10 billion is voluntarily gifted to charity each year in the UK.

I want to go straight to the code and read what it says about online giving

Read the code

I want to go straight to the code and read what it says about online giving

I have a concern about a particular donation

Make a complaint

I have a concern about a particular donation

For fundraisers

You should be clear with donors in advance of taking a donation where their donation will go and only use their money as you have stated. This also applies where you accept a donation which is subject to conditions on how it is spent (for example, to only fund a particular project) - see section 2.7 of the code.

Fundraisers should take steps to minimise the risk of donations being used fraudulently. This includes checking that secure procedures are in place for processing donations (section 4 of the code). The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has more guidance on handling donations.

You should also make sure you can demonstrate who you are  to donors. The Fundraising Regulator has listed six questions that every fundraiser should be able to answer to improve donor confidence.

Charities reliant on IT and technology in their fundraising should ensure donors and funds raised are protected from cyber crime. The National Cyber Security Centre has guidance for small charities on how to protect your charity’s data, assets, and reputation.

If you believe that you or your charity has been the victim of fraud, scams or extortion you should report this through the Action Fraud website. You should also report it as a serious incident to the Charity Commission via .

There may be circumstances where it would be inappropriate or unethical for a charity to accept a donation. You should have a clear policy in place for accepting donations and take a risk based approach. For more information, see the Charity Commission for England and Wales' guidance on accepting, refusing and returning donations to your charity.

Fundraisers must take all reasonable steps to treat a donor fairly, taking into account the needs of any potential donor who may be in a vulnerable circumstance or require additional care and support to make an informed decision. There is more information available about the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances in the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s ‘treating donors fairly’ guidance.

For the public

Whether you donate as a way of supporting the local community, to give back or because you’re personally affected by a cause, your gift can make a big difference to a charity.

There are many ways to make a donation:

  • By giving direct to the charity, for example, over the phone, through their website or by responding to an appeal
  • By giving through your salary
  • Leaving a legacy in your will
  • Setting up a direct debit for regular payment
  • Putting money in collection boxes or donation tin
  • Giving clothes to a charity shop or charity bag collector
  • Supporting a charity-affiliated lottery

If you are a tax payer, signing a gift aid declaration will allow the charity to claim the tax back on your donation, at no extra cost to you. HMRC has guidance on claiming gift aid.

You may wish to give a donation on the condition that it is spent in a particular way by the charity. Be aware though that the way the money is spent is ultimately a decision for the charity’s trustees, who are responsible for spending donations according to the charity’s objects. Unless the charity has agreed with you special conditions for accepting the money you have raised, there is no guarantee that it can fulfil any special wishes you may have for how it is spent.

While most charity fundraisers are genuine, unfortunately some are fraudulent. We understand that every time you give, you want to feel confident that you can trust that charity. See our guidance on how to give safely for more information on what to look for.

Donations resources


Tips for giving safely to charity: advice for the public

Be alert to common fraud tactics when giving in-person or online. This will give you confidence to donate to genuine causes.
Read more