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Charity Commission advises on how to give to UK flood appeals

Charity Commission advises on how to give to UK flood appeals

The Charity Commission has re-issued its advice to the public on how to give safely to genuine registered charities, as people respond to help those affected by the flooding and storms in the UK. The advice seeks to prevent duplication of effort, promote efficient transfer of monies to charities, and prevent fraudulent collections.

Sam Younger, the chief executive of the Charity Commission, said:

“Many people will be wondering what they can do to help victims of the extreme weather, which has brought havoc to the lives of thousands of people across the UK. Our advice is to ‘think registered charity first’ by finding existing charities that are already providing expert support for those in need. Think carefully before setting up a brand new charity. The Commission can register new charities quickly in times of acute need. But often the most effective and efficient way to help is to support existing established charities.”

Responsibilities of collectors

The Commission reminded the public that funds raised for charitable purposes still fall under the Commission’s regulatory jurisdiction, whether or not they are raised by an existing charity. In other words, people managing such appeals “take on the legal duties and responsibilities of charity trustees”.

If the funds are not raised for an existing charity and are not spent swiftly, the the Commission advises those managing the appeal to form a charity. Charities in England and Wales with an income of over £5,000 must register with the Commission.

Avoid duplication

The Commission advised people who wanted to help to consider supporting existing coordinated relief efforts, such as UK Community Foundations, the umbrella bodies for community foundations across the UK, which has launched a Flood and Storm Appeal. The British Red Cross is also active in the affected areas.

People should also contact their local Community and Voluntary Service, which may be co-ordinating local charities’ responses to the disaster in their area.

Avoid fraudulent collections

Fraudsters seem to see opportunities in most major disasters and charitable appeals. The Commission there offers these 10 steps to help the public check whether an organisation asking for their donations is a genuine charity.

  1. Before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number. You can verify this at the Charity Commission’s website. By checking the charity’s online register entry, you can also see whether it is up to date in filing its annual returns and accounts, which is fundamental to being a well-run charity.
  2. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
  3. Very small local charities may not be registered with the Charity Commission because they are below the income threshold for registration (above £5,000 a year). If you are asked to give to a small unregistered charity, take additional precautions by asking questions about who the charity’s trustees are and how the funds will be applied.
  4. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information. A genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  5. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  6. Look for the FRSB tick logo indicating that the charity is signed up to fundraising regulation, encouraging you to give with confidence.
  7. To check whether a fundraiser is authorised to collect money in a public place (they must have a license), contact your local authority or, if in London, the police. If it is a private place, check with the owner.
  8. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your preferred charity to check you have the right web address.
  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it as a crime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission.
  10. If in any doubt, contact your favoured charity direct to make a donation.



Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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