Please click here to read OSCR’s COVID-19 Guidance for Charities

Giving Funds: A great way to support the COVID-19 response

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Charities are very often at the heart of community responses during a time of crisis.  One of the difficult things about the current situation is that just when charities could be playing a vital role, many of their traditional fundraising activities have had to stop or have been curtailed.  Many are already struggling financially and having to make difficult decisions about what they can and can’t do.  A key way of supporting the response at this time is by giving money (where you have some spare).

But what should you be considering when you think about where and how to give money?

It is important to try to make sure that you are contributing to a legitimate organisation.  Perhaps you know the organisation you want to support?  You may have been involved with them or benefited from them in the past.  That can be a good basis on which to give.  However, often you won’t have a level of personal knowledge and where you don’t, a good way is to give to a registered charity.  You can check that they are charity by looking at the Scottish Charity Register.  It is important to note, however, that not all organisations doing good work will be charities.  You will need to think about other ways of checking on those, perhaps through talking to others who have been involved with them.

When a crisis strikes, it can be confusing.  There may be lots of organisations seeking your support.  You might find it hard to choose.  Sometimes a good way of giving in a disaster situation is through a central coordinated mechanism that aims to distribute the money across the country, where the need is greatest.  The National Emergencies Trust has set up a Coronavirus Appeal which is raising funds for charities and grassroots organisations across the UK.  In Scotland, Foundation Scotland will manage the distribution of the money to charities and other organisations that are working to support those affected by the virus.

But what do you do if you are a bit worried about any fundraising that is going on?  If you feel uncomfortable about the way a charity is carrying out its fundraising you should, in the first instance, directly contact the charity.  Charities have primary responsibilty for dealing with fundraising complaints.  It’s important for them to get your feedback, so they can understand any problems, address your concerns and improve their fundraising practice.  All charities should have a two tier complaint-handing process in place. 

If your complaint is not resolved, then the final stage will be handled by the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel.   This is the body in Scotland which has been set up to oversee the system of fundraising regulation in Scotland.  The Panel will look at your complaint, using the Code of Fundraising Practice as a benchmark.  If you are interested in the standards of fundraising that organisations should be working to, then the Code of Fundraising Practice is a good place to start 

If your complaint is about a UK wide charity, the organisation to deal with any complaints in their final stage will be the Fundraising Regulator.

We know from our experience that the majority of charities out there will be trying their hardest, in very difficult situations, to support communities in need.  Part of getting stronger as a charity sector is making sure we are all constantly working to improve standards.  Spotting and dealing with situations where charities are getting it wrong is an important step in this process.