Criminal convictions earlier this year have sadly shown how criminals can abuse the good name and reputation of both individualcharities and the charity sector as a whole. These also highlight the risk that criminals and those who are intent on supporting terrorist activities will abuse charities and the trust the public holds them in. Charities and the public need to be alert to any possible fraud; not just fraud for terrorist purposes.
Advice for charities
Although most people who fundraise and support charities are honest, there are some unscrupulous people who will abuse a charity's name and exploit the trust and confidence the public has in charities.
Trustees may not be able to detect and stop all fraudsters, but there are procedures and safeguards that charities can put in place to help detect any suspicious activities, which make it more difficult for fraudsters to abuse them, and help reassure the public that they can give safely to charity:
- if you give people who fundraise for you official charity material, such as identity badges, collecting tins or buckets and official charity tabards, make sure you collect them all back and do so promptly, checking that none is missing and that buckets and tins are not tampered with1
- remember that people who fundraise for you by conducting street or house to house collections need a licence to do so
- make clear to them that they need to comply with the fundraising regulations
- if people fundraise for you, consider providing your volunteers with a basic information pack or leaflet about what they must do and should not do if they are collecting on your behalf
- if your charity never uses or does not want to encourage donations in the form of cash or street collections, let your donors and supporters know this by making it clear on your website
- if you are made aware that supporters are collecting on your behalf without a licence, do not ignore it; contact them to let them know this is not permitted and that they need a licence. Under the provisions of the Charities Act 1992 a charity may also apply to court for an injunction to prevent a person from fundraising without its consent
- if you suspect collectors are collecting fraudulently in your name without permission, contact the police. If you think the collection is fraudulent you can do so through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or through their website at www.actionfraud.police.uk
More advice and information is available in our guidance Charities and fundraising - CC20, Compliance toolkit chapter 2 - Due diligence monitoring and end use of funds and on the Institute of Fundraising website www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk.
Charity Fraud: A guide for the trustees and managers of charities - guidance produced by the Charity Finance Group in partnership with 15 public law enforcement and charity sector organisations, including the Charity Commission, as part of our partnership work with the sector, aiming to safeguard charitable donations and encourage giving.
Guidance for trustees on how to Prevent and deal with online fraud has been published by the advice organisation Get Safe Online, in partnership with the Charity Commission.
We publish advisory alerts to raise awareness of particular risks or vulnerabilities which may affect charities when we become aware of these. A number relate specifically to safer giving, either generally, or in response to a particular crisis.
Also, see the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association website www.pfra.org.uk
1. The Code of Fundraising Practice states: To ensure that efficient and effective monitoring of all collections takes place, the issue and return of all materials connected with the collection OUGHT to be recorded. And Arrangements OUGHT to be made for the receipt of the collection proceeds and all used and unused materials connected with it at a specified point authorised by the organiser of the collection.
this page has been extracted from the Charity Commission website at 10:00am - 24/06/2013: