News story

How to give safely to charities

When you give to charity, make sure your donations reach the right causes.

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Check that a charity is registered before donating

Giving to charity is a longstanding and important tradition and the British public are always generous in their support for charities.

Charity scams are small in number compared to how much is given safely, but the charity sector generates an annual income of nearly £75 billion making it an attractive target for criminals.

We want to make sure that the public are aware of the correct steps to follow when supporting and donating to charity, so that all donations go to the intended beneficiaries.

By making simple checks part of the routine of donating, such as checking the charity register, we can all become smarter and more conscious donors, and help promote public trust in the sector as a whole.

Our latest safer giving campaign aims to help you continue giving safely to registered charities.

Key advice for safer giving

  • check the charity’s name and registration number Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered
  • make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information
  • be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them
  • check whether street collectors are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed and undamaged
  • ask the collector for more information if in doubt
  • contact the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with to find out more about their spending
  • carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to check whether they are from a genuine charity
  • check whether fundraising materials are genuine. They should feature the charity’s name, registered number and a landline contact number (check their contact details on the register at
  • never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately
  • use the same level of caution every time you support or donate to a charity

Reporting suspicious activity

After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to the police. You can also complain about a charity to us and the Fundraising Regulator.

If you think a collection is fraudulent report it to Action Fraud through their website or call them on 0300 123 2040.

If you think a collector does not have a licence - report it to the relevant Local Authority Licensing Team or the Metropolitan Police (if in Greater London). Also let the charity and Action Fraud know if you can.

Published 11 March 2019