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Give safely to refugee appeals: advice from the charity regulator

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Ensure your donations reach registered charities.

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The news is currently dominated by the plight of thousands of men, women and children attempting to travel across Europe, and finding themselves in desperate need.

Many registered charities, experienced in this area, are currently working to give humanitarian aid and support. If you wish to support this work you can find a registered charity through our online search.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission said:

There are laws around collecting money for charity in public which are there to protect donors and make sure that the money raised goes to a genuine charitable cause. Follow our advice to make sure that whether you give online, by phone or in person you are giving safely.

Top 10 tips from the commission to make sure you give safely:

  1. Before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number against the online charity search tool: Find a charity - register of charities.

  2. Fundraisers require a licence from the local authority (or the police in London) to collect in a public place. Check that they have this. If the collection is in a privately owned place, check that they have the owner’s permission.

  3. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.

  4. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.

  5. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  6. Make sure when you give to radio and television appeals that the process is secure. Ofcom lists the rules for radio and television charity appeals on its website: Licensing - Ofcom website.

  7. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your chosen charity to check you have the right web address. For further guidance see: Guidance for donors - Get Safe Online.

  8. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.

  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission: Action Fraud - Police.

  10. Don’t be pressurised to give to a collection immediately. If in any doubt, donate directly to the charity.
Published 3 September 2015