The Institute of Fundraising has published updated guidance on the acceptance and refusal by charities of donations. It is designed to help trustees and fundraisers make clear and consistent decisions when they face a potentially problematic donation.
The updated advice comes in the wake of The Presidents Club scandal in January 2018.
Acceptance of donations is of course a key part of a charity’s reputation and the trust the public can expect to have in it. While it tends to be major gifts that cause the challenges, it is important to recognise that any size of gift could create a possible conflict with a charity’s ethics, values and vision.
The Institute’s guidance builds on its earlier publication on the topic, and is intended to give charities further support as they prepare a consistent and considered strategy for potential risks in the future.
The guidance is aimed at anyone in charities who is involved in raising funds and making decisions on gift acceptance, and specifically covering the role and responsibility of trustees. It features guidance on how to put together a policy on gift acceptance and refusal and examples of where charities might have to make difficult decisions.
You can download ‘Acceptance, refusal, and return: A practical guide to dealing with donations’ for free from the Institute of Fundraising’s website.
Stephanie Siddall, Policy Manager, Institute of Fundraising, said: “Fundraisers understand the importance of making sure there is enough money and resource for their charity to be able to carry out its work. But, sometimes there are other considerations that can be more important – the value of donation may not always be worth the cost in terms of a potential loss of public trust and confidence, reputational damage or a conflict with the charity’s ethics, values and vision. These aren’t easy decisions, which is why this guidance is an important tool in supporting charities, fundraisers and trustees to know how to deal with these situations.”
Charity Commission welcomes guidance
Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy, Planning and Communications, Charity Commission for England and Wales, welcomed the updated guidance.
She said: “It is, rightly, difficult for a charity to decide to refuse or return a donation – it will need all the money it can get and trustees are under a duty to use all the charity’s resources to further its aims for the public benefit. But there are some rare situations when trustees can properly decide that refusing or returning a donation is going to be in the charity’s best interests. We hope that this guidance will help charities understand those situations, and the rules and processes around them.”