Charity regulators and anti-fraud bodies launch Christmas 2022 Safer Giving Campaign

The Fundraising Regulator, Charity Commission for England and Wales and Action Fraud have joined forces to launch the Christmas 2022 Safer Giving Campaign.

The campaign urges donors to make simple checks to ensure their donations reach the intended cause, especially during the current economic crisis, which is putting pressure on households and charities alike.

Most fundraising is genuine, but sadly fraudsters do take advantage of people’s generosity. According to the latest figures from the National Audit Office, fraud represented 41% of all crime against individuals in the year ending June 2022. From January to November 2022, 408 reports of charity fraud were made to Action Fraud, with a total reported loss of £2.3 million. 

The campaign, which is being coordinated by the Fundraising Regulator, provides advice to the public about giving safely to charity during the festive period. It suggests simple checks that can be done before making any charitable gift, to make sure donations are reaching the intended causes. 

This includes:

  • Checking the charity name and its registration number on the Charity Commission website to find out whether the charity is legitimate. 
  • Looking out for the Fundraising Badge on charity fundraising materials – the logo that says ‘registered with Fundraising Regulator’; and 
  • using the Fundraising Regulator’s online Directory to find out whether a charity has registered with it and committed to excellent standards of fundraising practice.
  • Asking questions about the cause – if people are still unsure about giving, they should always ask for more information. Legitimate causes will be happy to respond.

Against the backdrop of rising energy and food bills, and real-term wage falls, charities are reporting pressure on donations, making it even more important that people are alert to potential fraud and take simple steps to ensure their hard-earned funds reach the causes they care about.

The campaign also notes that there has been an increase in personal cause fundraising, with people appealing for financial help from friends, family, and the wider public. Whilst many of these appeals, often hosted on crowdfunding websites, will be legitimate, it is important to note that fraudsters and scammers have also been known to set up such pages to take advantage of people’s generosity. Those with concerns should contact the platform hosting the activity or report it to the police or Action Fraud.

The campaign is keen to highlight that personal cause fundraising is not regulated by the Charity Commission or the Fundraising Regulator and that giving to registered charities is often the most effective, as well as the safest way, to help.

Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator said:

“Charities perform vital work in this country and overseas, and we are keen to ensure that the steadfast generosity of the British public continues to be channelled into where it is needed most. Amid the cost-of-living crisis, where charities and personal budgets are tight, people must feel confident that their donations are going to where they are intended. 

Although fraudsters remain inventive, by following some simple checks you can reduce your chances of falling victim to fraud and help ensure that charities continue to receive the donations they need to carry out their essential work.”

Paul Latham, Director of Communications and Policy at the Charity Commission, said:

“These are difficult times for many households, and indeed for charities that rely on people’s generosity. We know not everyone will be able to give to charity this Christmas, but those that do will want to make sure that their donations reach the end cause, and make a positive difference. We’re therefore calling on donors to undertake simple checks to ensure they can continue to give safely, and with confidence.”

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: 

“Charities work tirelessly all year round to help those in greatest need. Sadly, criminals will try to abuse the generosity and goodwill of others, and this can have a huge financial impact on charities and the causes they support.

We would encourage people not to be put off donating to charities, but to follow a few simple steps to ensure your donations don’t end up in the wrong hands. Make sure you do your research before donating to ensure you’re giving your money to a legitimate charity this Christmas.”