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Ukraine invasion sees regulator warn charities to ‘know their donors’

Melanie May | 3 March 2022 | News

Ukraine flag. Photo: Pixabay.com

The Charity Commission has issued advice for charities and trustees following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With many charities having launched emergency fundraising appeals, the Commission has issued a statement reminding trustees of its guidance on running effective and impactful appeals, and on holding, moving and receiving funds safely.

It also urges charities to ensure they “know their donors”, and consider whether or not to accept donations, including the chance of any reputational implication in doing so. It has guidance on this as well as on managing risks when working internationally.

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In addition, the Commission is warning charities operating in Russia that they may find themselves under increasing pressure due to sanctions, and have difficulties in transferring funds due to the operating environment for civil society in the country.

Please give safely, urges Charity Commision, on a blue and yellow background indicating the flag of Ukraine
Giving safely to Ukraine emergency appeals. Image: Charity Commission

It points charities towards HM Treasury’s e-alerts to keep up to date with financial sanction news, and guidance from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI). It also urges trustees to consider its guidance on working in high-risk areas, and to ensure that they are following Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice, and keeping staff, volunteers and funds safe.

The Commission expects to see other implications for charities, both short and long term, and will promote or update its guidance when necessary. Charities are encouraged to encourage charities to keep an eye on its gov.uk pages for updates and to get in touch with its contact centre with any specific questions or concerns.

Chartered Institute of Fundraising and NCVO advice

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has also issued advice for charities in a blog by Head of Policy and External Affairs Daniel Fluskey. In it, he looks more widely at fundraising in the context of an emergency, with tips on making sure you’re as accurate and clear in appeals as possible, that you consider how you’ll feed back to donors and answer questions from the public, consider how supporters and the public might feel at being asked to give in a time of emergency, and also think about whether there are any offers of support you can’t accept.

In an NCVO blog on how charities and civil society can support Ukraine, Alex Farrow also includes a useful look at how the war might impact charities in the UK. This includes advice on checking disaster recovery plans and being vigilant about cyber attacks. NCVO is holding a free webinar on 16 March on this topic.

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