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Clayhall Community Centre: December 2019

Name and type of organisation: Clayhall Community Centre (registered charity no. 1157196) a community charity

Fundraising method: various

Code themes examined: restricted funds, complaint handling

Code breach? Yes

The complaint

The complainant told us that they had donated money to Clayhall Community Centre (the charity) for a restricted purpose, however, the charity had not fulfilled this purpose and had refused to return their donation. The complainant was also concerned that the charity was raising funds to purchase a property without a target date for completion and that the charity was not keeping restricted donations separate from its general funds.

What happened?

The charity had been fundraising to purchase a property for over a year. It advised donors that it needed to have a large deposit available while it searched for a suitable property. At the time of the complaint, the charity had not yet purchased a property, nor provided donors with a timeframe for the purchase.

Our decision

We found that Clayhall Community Centre did have processes in place to ensure restricted donations were used for their intended purpose. As the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) does not require organisations to provide a timeframe for campaigns, we did not find any failing on the part of the charity on this point.

However, we found that the charity had not informed donors what would happen if it either raised insufficient funds or exceeded the amount needed, so was therefore in breach of one of the standards in the key principles and behaviours section of the code.

We also found that the charity did not have a publicly available complaints procedure, so was therefore in breach of the code. However, we found that the charity had appropriately responded to the complaint.

Recommendations

We recommended that the charity:

  • update its fundraising materials for this campaign to advise donors what would happen to funds received if the total funds raised were either insufficient or exceed the target. We also recommended that it should provide this information verbally to donors.
  • finalise its draft complaints policy and makes this publicly available. We recommended that it includes information in this policy on where complainants can escalate their complaint to if they remain unhappy with the charity’s response.
  • consult the Institute of Fundraising’s guidance 'Acceptance, refusal and return: A practical guide to dealing with donations, May 2018' when drafting its new refund policy.

We asked the charity to write to us within one month of our final decision to outline the actions it has taken.

Outcome

The charity confirmed that it accepted our findings and recommendations.