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Are you aware of the Fundraising Badge?

Do you always make sure you’re giving to genuine charitable causes? Our guest explains why you should look out for the Fundraising Badge before giving to charity.

This is a guest article by Gerald Oppenheim. All views expressed are Gerald’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

The easing of pandemic restrictions across the UK has meant in-person fundraising can begin to resume. The pandemic caused public fundraising activity to pause for periods of time throughout 2020 and 2021, so it’s been fantastic to see fundraisers engaging with the public once more.

But with public fundraising returning, it is vital that you and others around you feel confident donating to good causes. Very sadly, there are always likely to be a small number of individuals seeking to take advantage of people’s goodwill.

The Fundraising Badge

To help you check that the causes you give to are legitimate and adhere to good fundraising practices, you should look out for the Fundraising Badge before giving to charity.

The Fundraising Badge is the logo which shows that a charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator. It means that the charity has committed to fundraising in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice, which applies to all charitable fundraising across the UK.

When you see the badge, you can give with confidence, knowing the charitable cause has agreed to fundraise in a way that is legal, open and honest. You can find the badge on charity fundraising materials, such as advertisements on billboards, buses and trains, on donation pages of a charity’s website and on street collection buckets.

You can also look out for the badge in social media posts, on direct mail marketing and in magazines.

Extra steps to identify genuine causes

If a charity does not display the Fundraising Badge, and you are unsure about its legitimacy, you can also: 

🔹 Check the charity’s name and registration number here, or check the charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator and committed to good fundraising practice on our site here.

🔹 Look out for the charity’s name, registered number and a landline contact number on fundraising materials – these should be included on materials such as charity clothing collection bags.

🔹 If you’re approached by a collector on the street or at the door, ask to see the collector’s ID badge. Genuine collectors should also have a permit or license to collect from the local authority. And you should never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately.

🔹 If you are still concerned about the authenticity of a fundraising cause, this can be reported to the local authority or the Police.

It is important to remember that the Fundraising Badge is there to keep you safe and to give you peace of mind that your donation is going to the intended cause, so that you can continue to give with confidence and support the vital work of charities.

This was a guest article by Gerald Oppenheim. All views expressed were Gerald’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Were you aware of the Fundraising Badge? Will you be looking out for it as a result of this advice? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

If I do decide to give to charity it is to one I know and usually local. A difficulty is knowing how effective is a charity’s work, how well money is spent and how much goes to those who run it. Charities compete for attention and for funds and, inevitably, may rely on relatively highly-paid people to deliver. Inevitable, because although I don’t really want my donations funding such people there seems no other way for a charity to work other than on comnercial business lines.

I am a trustee of a small charity and we work closely with a large national charity that is registered with the Fundraising Regulator and has paid its levy. I contribute a token amount of £5 per month towards the large charity and am well aware of its fundraising methods. I have no concerns and their current fundraising contact listed by the Fundraising Regulator knows me well.

Although I have no concerns about how the large charity raises funds the organisation has a widespread reputation for wasting money and I could provide examples, including one that is ongoing. Perhaps the Fundraising Regulator should consider whether charities use their charity funding efficiently, in addition to following the the Code of Fundraising Practice and the Fundraising Promise.

I look out for the FR badge on charity collection bags because concerns have been raised about the authenticity of some organisations. I also notice it on appeals that come as junk mail or are wrapped with subscription magazines but are not personally addressed.

What has not been explained is what assurances the Fundraising Regulator offers over the work of the Charity Commission which is the long-standing registration and supervisory body for charities, albeit mainly concerned with the disposition and use of funds rather than the collection processes.

I am involved with, or am a member of, a number of national and local charitable organisations, some of which have elected to become Charitable Incorporated Organisations, a form of official status that relieves them of the obligations of the Companies Acts and thus reduces their costs. Most big charities would not be eligible but many local ones would and it might be a path worth pursuing in specific cases.

I am also involved with some small local organisations with environmental purposes that are not charities in any form and don’t trade or seek financial contributions outside their own membership.

I have not seen the FR badge on any Consumers’ Association documents.

Isn’t there some possibility that the badge can be faked? Especially with so much technology around today and well within reach of organised criminals who often have their own forgers. And of course laminated id badges can also be faked, so at the end of the day how can you ever be sure that the “charity” is really genuine? And of course when you’re out on the streets how can you quickly check up on someone with a collecting box there and then? It would be a bit impractical to say the least and that’s what scammers and criminals rely on and take advantage of. I bet I could make a fake id badge if I was so dreadfully dishonest, the equipment is readily available. There’s even kits available to make such things, like id badges for some disabled folk for instance and like anything else they’re open to misuse and surely it’s easy enough for anyone with the right printing kit to fake the FR badge on a poster or a collection bag etc. And I’ve even seen some right dodgy characters on the streets with collecting boxes and complete with their little rectangular laminated badges so who can you trust? It’s just like the little padlock symbol on secure websites which can also be faked by folk with the right software and expertise. So how can genuine charities really be made properly recognisable? Luckily for me I have a friend who’s a Christian minister who is a retired professional and he’s also an expert on charities and he has one of his own.

Hi, this is covered in the piece itself under the heading ‘Extra steps to identify genuine causes’ – it specifically mentions steps that can be taken if you’re unsure about the badges legitimacy towards the end.

Do you believe that the Consumers Association should be a registered Charity. I thought Charities spent their incomes on good causes, usually to help other people in some way. I understand that this year the CEO of ‘Which’ takes a salary of £825,000 and that seems like a lot of money to be taking from a charitable institution!.

If ‘Which’ was a business it would have to answer to it’s shareholders and I would have no complaint but it seems to me that its managers do not have to answer to anyone and just treat it as a money spinner.

Hi @kathrynpilgrim,

The Consumers Association is a registered charity that heads the Which? Group. It exists for public benefit to further its charitable objectives.

The Council of Trustees of the Consumers’ Association is the most senior governing body of our charity and the Which? Group as a whole. The Consumers’ Association is a registered charity, regulated by the Charity Commission, and its trustees are charity trustees and company directors. Trustees are responsible for setting the strategy for the Group to enable the charity to deliver its charitable purpose and for monitoring and scrutinising delivery of this to ensure the continued success of the Which? Group.

There are commercial subsidiaries of the Group, including Which?, which is governed by its own board. The Board oversees the commercial direction of Which? with the aim of delivering a long-term sustainable financial return for the charity.

You can read about this in detail here:

https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/company-info/governance-overview

With regards to your comment on the CEO’s salary, this figure of £825,000 isn’t accurate. Our annual reports are freely available here:

https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/company-info/which-annual-reports

You’ll see in the 2019/20 Annual Report that the CEO’s basic salary is £250,000. Total remuneration for this role is £398,425. This can be found on page 43 and includes an explanation as to how this is calculated. The CEO receives a salary in line with the ambitious expectations of the role. All of Which?’s charitable and advocacy work is funded by revenue from our commercial activities, and Anabel oversees all of those activities.

We’re happy to continue talking about this, however this is off topic for this particular discussion. If you’d like to continue this conversation, let’s move over to our Membership discussion: https://conversation.which.co.uk/which-membership/which-discussion/