Our Guide to Safely Supporting Charities

The Charity sector in the UK is vitally important and increasingly so.  There are around 168,000 Charities in England and Wales and the majority of Charities are small: around 75% have income less than £100,000 per year and only 1% of Charities have income over £5m per year. NCVO’s Civil Society Almanac 2018 suggests that the sector accounts for almost 900,000 jobs and over £15bn in GDP, this demonstrates the economic importance of the sector, but the social and cultural impact is almost immeasurable.

The success of the sector and its ability to be able to deliver to beneficiaries relies on the ongoing support of the public and key to this is public trust in the sector.  Public trust in Charities has grown significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Some 54% of people in the UK say that they trust Charities “to do what is right” for society, a jump 6% since January 2020. Of course, this data is in the context of a global pandemic which is likely to explain the large jump. However, the data also shows that Charities are less trusted than the Government, 62% of people in the UK say they trust the Government, this is up 24% since the beginning of the year. This is the biggest rise in Government trust seen anywhere in the world!

Charities all have a part in ensuring this public trust is maintained and improved.  There are many dynamics around this but part of this is around making giving safe and protecting them and the Charity from fraudsters. Of course there is only so much the Charity can do and some part of this has to be around general education of the public and helping them understand how to stay safe and make sure their support goes to where it was intended!


Here is our guide to giving safely to charity:

Most fundraising is genuine. Only a small minority of collections and appeals are not genuine. But fraudsters know how to exploit the kindness of others to their own advantage. They use fake collection bags, collection buckets out on the street, misleading emails, texts and letters and also use high pressure techniques over the phone and even on your own doorstep.

When you support a charity, check that the charity follows the Fundraising Promise, is regulated by the Fundraising Regulator and look for their logo.

This will signal the charity’s commitment to high standards in its fundraising activities and how it manages them.


Giving on the Doorstep

Many fundraisers go door-to-door delivering envelopes, leaflets and bags, seeking donations of money, furniture, clothing and books. Or signing up new direct debit donors. The vast majority are reputable, and a few simple precautions can protect you from fraudsters.


  • Check for a proper ID badge (not photocopied or handwritten).
  • Is the charity’s name, registration number and landline number (not a mobile) printed on collection bags and written materials?
  • Some charities use third-party agencies to do their collecting. Make sure they explain who they work for, which Charity will benefit and how much of your donation will reach it.
  • Call or email the Charity to check that they really are collecting in your area. Collections usually require a permit or licence from the local authority although some bigger Charities are exempt from this.
  • If you have a ‘no cold calling’ sticker on your door, genuine fundraisers must not call, so be especially wary of anyone who does.
  • If in doubt, take your donated items to a local Charity shop when you are able to or call them to see if they can collect larger items.


Giving on the Street

We have all been approached in the street by Charity collectors carrying buckets or clipboards. They tend to work in small groups, wear the branded clothing of their cause and they should be more than happy to answer your questions and explain the work of their Charity. It is usually quite easy to verify the legitimacy of street collectors.


  • If they are collecting cash in a public space, they should have a permit or licence, if you are unsure ask to see it.
  • In privately-owned places (such as railway stations and supermarkets) check that they have the owner’s permission to be collecting.
  • The fundraiser should carry an ID badge which is not handwritten or photocopied and if they are collecting money it should be into a bucket that has an unbroken seal.
  • If you agree to donate by direct debit only provide your account number and sort code – a genuine fundraiser will not need your long card number, PIN or security code.


Giving Online

Donating online is quick and easy but remember that fraudsters also use the internet! Always be on the look out for copycat or bogus websites and email addresses and be especially vigilant when a new disaster appeal hits the headlines as fraudsters tend to capitalise on these.


  • Donate directly to your chosen charity via its own website ensuring you type in the web address – do not click on links in emails etc.
  • Check for a padlock symbol in the URL bar and that the web address begins ‘https’ (not ‘http’)
  • Never respond to unsolicited emails, texts or social media messages/posts from any charity you don’t know, never click on any links and report the message then delete it.
  • Make sure you are completely satisfied that a Charity is genuine before divulging personal financial information. Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have given your details to a bogus Charity.


If you have any questions or queries please contact us at: support@garbutt-elliott.co.uk