Setting up and running a charity – guidance

How to report a serious incident in your charity

What counts as a serious incident in your charity and how to report it.

Serious incidents you need to report

Report any serious incident that results in – or risks - significant:

  • loss of your charity’s money or assets
  • damage to your charity’s property
  • harm to your charity’s work, beneficiaries or reputation

Serious incidents include:

  • fraud, theft or other significant loss
  • a large donation from an unknown or unverified source
  • links to terrorism or to any organisation that’s ‘proscribed’ due to terrorist activity
  • a disqualified person acting as a trustee
  • not having a policy to safeguard your charity’s vulnerable beneficiaries
  • not having ‘vetting’ procedures in place to check your prospective trustees, volunteers and staff are eligible
  • suspicions, allegations or incidents of abuse of vulnerable beneficiaries

Any actual or suspected criminal activity within or involving your charity is a serious incident. Report a serious incident if your charity is being investigated by the police or another regulator for any reason.

If you and the other trustees fail to report a serious incident, the commission may consider this to be mismanagement and take regulatory action.

How to report a serious incident

Report an actual or suspected incident by emailing the Charity Commission as soon as you are aware of it. Make sure you say what happened and how you are dealing with the incident. You need to do this even if you’ve already reported it to the police or another regulator.

The commission’s detailed guidance on reporting serious incidents explains what to report for each type of incident.

Reporting serious incidents: guidance for charity trustees

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Legal requirement: if your charity’s income is over £25,000, you must confirm in your annual return that you’ve reported any serious incidents to the commission.

What happens after you report a serious incident

The commission will let you know it’s received your report and will look at how you are dealing with the incident. It will only contact you again if it:

  • needs more information about the incident
  • has to give you regulatory advice and guidance
  • has to use its legal powers to protect your charity