The Humanitarian and Saving Lives Trust: December 2021

Name and type of organisation: The Humanitarian and Saving Lives Trust (registered charity no. 1145711)

Fundraising method: Collection (Private – cash)

Code themes examined: Fundraiser behaviour and Covid-19 (fundraising)

Code breach? Yes

The complaint 

The complainant was unhappy with the behaviour of a fundraiser for the charity, who was collecting donation outside a supermarket. The complainant was also concerned that the charity was conducting face to face fundraising during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What happened?

In February 2021, a fundraiser was standing outside of a store in south London collecting money for the charity. The fundraiser and the complainant have both acknowledged the fact the complainant approached the fundraiser twice, donating some loose change on both occasions.

The complainant said the fundraiser would not confirm the name of the charity they were collecting for and that they only accepted donations of either £5 or £10, because coins make the collection bucket heavy. 

When the complainant took their complaint to the charity, it said it had spoken to the fundraiser who recalled the encounter. The fundraiser recalled they had asked the complainant to leave, because they were preventing them from giving attention to other potential donors. The fundraiser apologised if the complainant found they were rude.

The complainant disputed the response from the charity and raised concerns about the fact it was conducting public fundraising during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our decision

Our investigation was unable to conclude whether there had been a breach of the code in relation to the encounter between the fundraiser and the complainant because we were unable to reconcile the two conflicting accounts we were presented with.

Our investigation found that national guidance at the time was that public fundraising should cease due to the tightening of restrictions in January 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the charity was unable to provide evidence of the risk assessment it took when it decided to recommence public fundraising, against the national guidance at the time.  

We also found the fundraiser had misled the complainant, albeit, mistakenly, because the charity was not collecting funds for disabled children on the day in question.


We recommend that the charity uses the learning from this complaint to review its approach to decision making, and its documentation of this, so that it is well positioned to respond to any future requests to account for a decision.

We recommend the charity ensures that, when fundraising, it clearly defines the purpose of its fundraising and fully briefs its volunteers. 

We also recommended the charity update its complaints procedures, although they did not breach the code, we suggested some improvements.


The charity agreed to comply with our recommendations.