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HomeNews UKRegulators urge public to take care when donating to charity after £2.7m...

Regulators urge public to take care when donating to charity after £2.7m lost to fraudsters

To mark ‘Giving Tuesday’, an international day of increased generosity, the Fundraising Regulator, the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) and Practice Fraud today launched launch their annual safer giving campaign to remind people how to donate safely to charities.

The launch of the campaign comes as new data from Action Fraud shows fraudsters transferred more than £2.7m from charities last year. The data also revealed there were 501 reports of charity fraud between November 1, 2022 and October 31, 2023.

Regulators insist that most charitable fundraising is real. However, scammers and criminals sometimes take advantage of public generosity at times of increased donations, using methods such as fake complaint websites, email complaints using wrong names from genuine charities or complaints from fake charities.

Helping ensure donations reach their intended purpose remains vital as the cost of living crisis continues to have a significant impact. Based on recent research According to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, almost a fifth of charities are at risk of going out of business this winter, mainly due to lower income, higher costs and increased demand.

In launching the campaign, which will run throughout the festive period, managers emphasized that following safer donation steps will help people feel secure about donating to real good causes and Don’t feel discouraged by the data.

People who want to donate to charity this winter can do so with confidence by following some simple steps and top tips for donating safely:

  • Check the charity’s name and registration number on the Charity Register at www.gov.uk/checkcharity – most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered .
  • Make sure the charity is genuine before providing any financial information.
  • Be careful when replying to emails or clicking on links in them.
  • Contact or find out more online about the charity you are looking to donate to or partner with to understand how they spend their funds
  • Pay attention Fundraising badge – the logo says ‘registered with the Fundraising Regulator’ – and check the Fundraising Regulator Category of organizations that have committed to fundraising in accordance with the Fundraising Code of Practice.
  • Face-to-face fundraisers must have a license from the relevant Local Authority Licensing team or the Metropolitan Police (in Greater London). Never feel pressured to donate immediately. Ask the collector for more information and if in doubt, wait and donate directly at a time that suits you.

People who want to support local causes with an income of less than £5,000 (not required to be on the Charity Register) are encouraged to follow other recommended steps in addition to checking our register , including contacting the charity for more information.

The campaign comes ahead of the festive season, when calls for charitable donations increase and the British public are more likely to donate than the rest of the year. ONE recent research of the Charitable Aid Trust puts the UK third in the world rankings for charitable giving, with 71% of people regularly donating money to charity.

Building on Fraud data, regulators are also reminding charities to protect themselves against fraud during Charity Fraud Awareness Week.

Dr Helen Stephenson CBE, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said:

The incredible generosity we see from the British public extends even further over the festive period. We want to encourage and support this incredible goodwill.

Make it harder for scammers by doing some quick and simple checks, such as looking up the charity on our register, before donating to a cause. You care. Now more than ever, it is important that every penny reaches the sector.

Gerald Oppenheim, CEO of the Fundraising Regulator, said:

The festive period is always marked by increased philanthropy by the British public, who are always extremely generous when it comes to donating to charities.

While scammers continue to get creative, a few simple checks will increase the likelihood that your donation will go to a good cause. I encourage you to share this message with family and friends, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable.

Charities carry out essential work in the UK and globally all year round, in a difficult economic climate, so we want to ensure that the public are taking the appropriate measures to ensure tell their hard-earned money to go to a cause they care about.

Pauline Smith, Head of Fraud Prevention, said:

All year round, charities across the country work tirelessly to help those most in need. Some scammers may take advantage of our generosity, claiming to be raising money for a fake organization or impersonating a well-known charity. This can block legitimate donations but also affects the charity’s good work.

Most fundraising appeals are real, so the risk of fraud shouldn’t stop you from donating to charities. Instead, follow some simple steps to make sure your donation doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Make sure you do your research before donating so you’re confident you’re donating safely to legitimate organizations.

Notes to editors

  • The data refers to the volume of NFIB4A – charity fraud crime reports sent to Action Fraud.
  • The number and cost of charity fraud cases remained largely unchanged from the previous year. The total amount lost between November 2022 and October 2023 was £2,732,170 and 501 cases were reported, compared to 517 reports and £2,748,340 lost from ​November 2021 to October 2022.
  • The public can check whether a charity is registered at www.gov.uk/checkcharity
  • If, after carrying out these checks, you think a collection or complaint is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud by phone on 0300 123 2040 or online.
  • You can find useful information and tools to help charities raise awareness of fraud risks here: Resources – Preventing charity fraud
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