Questions to ask fundraisers

For Scottish registered charities, you can consult the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. For Northern Ireland registered charities you can consult the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. Please note that charities registered in Scotland are required to display their registration number.

What permissions do you have that allow you to collect in this area?

Fundraisers require a permit or licence to collect money in a public place. If you’re not sure, contact your local authority (or the Metropolitan Police in London) to check. In privately owned spaces such as train/tube stations, supermarkets and indoor shopping  malls, the fundraiser must have the consent of the private site owner. The fundraiser should be happy to give you details of the permissions they have on request.

Who do you work for / What proportion of my money goes to the charity?

Many charities work with third parties to help them keep fundraising costs low and provide extra support to raise funds. If the fundraiser is working for a commercial partner, they are legally obliged to explain to you who they work for, which charity the collection is taking place for and how much both the charity and the agency are receiving for making the appeal.

How can I be sure you are who you say you are?

When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing an ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed. Be cautious if the ID is photocopied or hand-written, or if tins show signs of damage.

If you choose to support a charity through a direct debit donation, the fundraiser may ask for your 8 digit account number and sort code to set up the donation. However, be wary of any fundraiser that asks to see your bank card. Never share long card numbers, PINs or security codes. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile  number.

If you are called by a telephone fundraiser, the number you are being called from should be an identifiable phone number rather than listed as “private” or “unknown”. If in doubt, ask to take a phone number so that you can independently verify their details with the charity directly and call them  back.

For door-to-door fundraisers, contact the charity directly if you’d like to check whether they are collecting in your area. If you have any concerns about giving your bank details at the door, you could contact the charity directly to set up your donation.

To ensure that a website being used by a charity to accept donations is secure, check that the website address starts with ‘https’ as opposed to ‘http’.

Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities that you have never heard of or have no association with. Do not respond and never click on links contained within them. Report them and then delete them.

Do you support good fundraising practice?

By March 2017, fundraising organisations will have had the opportunity to register with the Fundraising Regulator to demonstrate their commitment to high fundraising standards and the Code of Fundraising Practice. From this date, check our website or look for the “registered with the Fundraising Regulator” badge on their fundraising materials to see if they are signed up.

Can I think it over?

If you are unsure and need time to think about a possible donation, you shouldn’t feel pressured to give there and then. Fundraisers should be happy to highlight ways of giving to their cause that don’t involve a financial commitment on the day.  If in any doubt, contact the charity directly if you would like to make a donation.

If you are unhappy with a method of fundraising that you have witnessed or faced, contact the charity to whom funds are being sent, to make a complaint. Once the charity has come back to you, if you are still unhappy with how the situation has been dealt with, you can issue your complaint to the Fundraising Regulator complaints team here.

NB. Charities with an income of less than £5,000 per year do not have to be registered with the Charity Commission.