How can you make sure you’re donating to authentic causes? Our guest, the Fundraising Regulator, explains how the work it does helps give you confidence.
This is a guest post by Subodh Patel. All views expressed are Subodh’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
The general public is extremely generous when donating to good causes. Together, we gave a staggering £10.3 billion to UK charities in 2017.
Fundraising is a big part of how charities connect with the public and create support for their work – but it needs to be regulated so that standards across all fundraising organisations remain high.
People need to know that the fundraising which takes place is for legitimate causes and it is being carried out in the right way. And, even if the fundraising is ethical, the public should be able to stop unwanted contact from fundraisers at any time and in an easy way.
Improving fundraising standards across the UK is the reason why the Fundraising Regulator was established.
We handle complaints regarding fundraising and ensure fundraisers are compliant with the Code of Fundraising Practice. We also operate the Fundraising Preference Service which the public can use to top unwanted communications.
If you’re feeling unsure about giving to a charity, there are a number of things you can do to help you feel confident that you’re donating safely.
1. Check the charity’s name and registration number – you can verify this on the register of charities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and Wales. You can also check if the charity is signed up to the fundraising standards, by checking to see if it’s listed in the Fundraising Directory.
2. When approached by collectors on street or at home, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed and not damaged.
3. Check whether a collector has permission to collect – if raising money in a public place ask to see a ID or permission document as a permit or license is usually required. Collections in private places like train stations and supermarkets need the owner’s or manager’s permission so you can ask a member of staff at these locations about the authenticity of the collections.
4. Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and do not click on links contained within them – also, you should ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company as this is a popular scam.
5. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to find out whether they are from a genuine charity. Look for a charity name and number which can be cross checked on Charity Commission website. Look for the name of the company acting on behalf of the charity – this should be registered company and you should be clear about how their collection helps specific charities.
After you make a donation, the charity is likely to communicate with you. It may simply contact you to thank you for your gift. It may also want to keep you up-to-date with the work you have supported, or even its work in other areas.
Alternatively, you might be asked if you’d like to set up a regular donation to the charity. You should be in control of these communications and not feel pressured.
You may be comfortable with this and feel you can turn off the communications you no longer want – whether it is clicking the unsubscribe link on the emails you receive, asking a telephone fundraiser to stop the calls or writing to a charity to be removed from mailing lists.
Many charities work hard to make sure you can stop communications directly, but if you begin to feel overwhelmed or unable to deal with the amount of communication, the Fundraising Preference Service could help you.
What is the Fundraising Preference Service?
The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) is operated by the Fundraising Regulator and it allows you to stop direct marketing communications from charities, which includes fundraising.
You can use it put a stop phone calls, emails, letters or text messages, even if you have previously consented to contact. Since the service launched in 2017, we’ve dealt with over 27,000 requests to stop charity communications.
The service is available online or via phone. You simply need the name or registered number of the charity from which you want to stop communications. You can switch off a particular type of communication or stop all contact.
You can use it to help other people, too. The service was designed with vulnerable people in mind and requests to stop communications can be made on behalf of another person – for example, those who may not be computer literate, or vulnerable people who need someone to act on their behalf.
So if you or anyone you know is feeling overwhelmed then you should use FPS to stop the communications. I’ll be at the other end, checking that charities are observing your wishes!
This was a guest post by Subodh Patel. All views expressed were Subodh’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
Do you always feel confident when donating to charities? Were you comfortable with the level of marketing communications you received afterwards?