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Charity Commission publishes guidance on disaster relief appeals

DEC logo 2008
Disasters Emergency Committee

The Charity Commission has published guidance on starting, running and supporting charitable disaster appeals. The advice is directed both at charities and members of the public wishing to give money or set up fundraising activities in response to a disaster or humanitarian crisis.

With information on the legal and best practice framework for charitable appeals, the guidance points out that people can support relief efforts without necessarily setting up new charities. Indeed, the Commission recommends that “often the best way to help in the aftermath of a disaster is to give money, time or skills to existing charities which already have systems in place.”

At the heart of the guidance is the need to encourage effective giving to current and future appeals, and to protect public trust and confidence in charities. For example, it includes advice for trustees and on how to recognise and prevent fraud that may affect a charity or its appeal.


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The importance of wording

The guidance emphasises the importance of wording appeals in a way that lets the public know exactly what they are supporting. Charities should, for example, make clear what they can achieve realistically, and what will happen to any surplus funds.

The Commission and the Disasters Emergency Committee

The guidance is based on lessons learned from a number of disaster appeals and relief campaigns over the past 10 years, including the Haiti earthquake, Pakistan floods and the Japanese tsunami. The Commission has worked with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to ensure that key lessons have informed the new guidance.

Kathryn Hindley, Deputy Chief Executive of the DEC, said:

“The DEC welcomes the Charity Commission’s new guidance on disaster relief appeals. The increased prevalence of the internet and social media over the last decade has made disasters more visible and we have seen an increased desire in people wanting to help. This makes the proper administration of disaster relief appeals of fundamental importance, to ensure money donated is being used where it is intended. The new guidance should help make this process clear so that resources can be more focused on disaster relief.”