A new safer giving campaign supported by the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Standards Board has been devised to ensure cash donations do not end up in the hands of fraudsters including even organised criminals and terrorists.
The Support Charity Not Crime campaign has been developed and funded by the London Prevent Network – part of the Home Office’s Prevent Strategy aimed at countering extremism – and the Metropolitan Police to provide simple advice for people donating into collection boxes, and also those who facilitate collections such as shopkeepers who are asked to keep collection boxes on their counters.
The campaign will provide safe giving messages – such as checking the collector’s ID and whether the charity is registered with the Charity Commission – delivered via social media to millions of Londoners and up to200,000 leaflets handed out to members of the public and businesses.
The London-wide campaign follows the success of a similar standalone initiative by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea last autumn.
There have been two high profile cases of individuals convicted of funding terrorism through fraudulent charity collections in the last two years. Last year, three men were convicted of posing as collectors for Muslim Aid, and in August 2012, twin brothers were convicted of using the proceeds of fraudulent street collections to fund terrorist training in Somalia.
However, a spokesman for the London Prevent Network (LPN), which includes representatives of all those London boroughs, deemed priority areas by the Government’s anti-extremism Prevent Strategy (18 local authority Boroughs), told UK Fundraising the new initiative was not directly in response to a rise in terrorism-related charity fraud.
“Although most of the money collected through illegitimate fundraising doesn’t go to extremism, there is still a significant risk of this happening. This [safer giving] advice has always been a long-term aim for us and the initiative in H&F and RBKC proved so successful that we decided to expand it throughout London.”
‘Shocking’ state of collecting boxes on shop counters
The spokesman said it had been “shocking” to see the state of some collections boxes on shop counters. “Some have just had the name of an organisation written on a bit of paper and stuck to the box with blue tac,” he said.
The campaign has been designed to have the primary aim of supporting charitable giving and the LPN spokesman commented:
“The campaign’s primary message is to promote charitable giving and the facilitation of collections. There is nothing more off-putting to donors to read news articles describing fraudsters taking money away from those whom need it most, particularly when that money is ending up in the hands of organised criminals and even terrorists. Some of the most pleasing outcomes from the campaign launch was the feedback from local businesses whom had previously not supported charities for fear of the money ending up in the wrong hands and whom now felt confident that making the quick and simple steps adovated in the campaign would mean they could now accept charitable collections on their premises.”
Following the Muslim Aid fraud convictions, the Charity Commission provided new advice on the risk of fraudulent collections.
[message_box title=”Charity Not Crime” color=”blue”]
• Charity Commission press release on Charity Not Crime.
• Fundraising Standards Board press release on Charity Not Crime.
• Government policy on terrorism
• Charity Commission guidance on safer giving.
• Charity Commission toolkit on charities and terrorism.