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

Supporting the Ukrainian people

Published: 07/03/2022
Updated: 25/03/2022

The war in Ukraine has had a catastrophic effect on its people and, naturally, people across Scotland, the UK and the world have been moved to support them in some way.

 

  1. How to support

OSCR has produced guidance for members of the public that wish to support the Ukrainian people and some of this advice will also be relevant for charities.

While it is up to trustees to determine how and who they wish to support, the key message from the referenced guidance is that the best way to support the people of Ukraine is to donate to charities registered in Scotland or the rest of the UK that have an ongoing relief operation in the region.

Every donor will want their contribution to be used in the best way possible; experienced aid organisations have the expertise and infrastructure to most effectively make use of funds that have been raised.  

 

  1. Charitable purposes

If you wish to raise funds on an ongoing basis or provide direct aid for Ukraine please ensure that these activities will still advance your charitable purposes as provided for in your governing document. If they do not, you must apply to OSCR for consent to change purposes first. OSCR will prioritise any applications for consent to change purposes to aid the people of Ukraine during the war as we have done for those applications we have already processed.

 

  1. One off collections

As noted above, generally a charity that provides grants to other charities must ensure that it only does so in furtherance of its own charitable purposes. However, OSCR has taken the view that it can be acceptable for a charity, in the course of an event or activity, to collect money for another charity or appeal that does not have purposes similar to its own provided that:

  • It is incidental to the event or activity;
  • The intended appeal or beneficiary is clearly indicated to potential donors to remove any likelihood of them being misled into believing their donation is for the charity itself; and
  • Where necessary the charity has the permission of the body on whose behalf it is raising funds.

For example, if you wished to pass a collecting tin around the audience during the interval of a show to raise funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) Ukraine appeal, you would not need to change your charitable purposes as long it was clear that the funds would be donated to the DEC. It is important that potential donors know exactly what their donation is being used for. However, if you were holding events specifically to raise funds for Ukraine, as opposed to any fundraising being ancillary to the main event, this would require a change to your purposes.

We would recommend that incidental one off fundraising is clearly recorded and accounted for so that it can be easily identified when your accounts are prepared.

Please note, all fundraising being carried out, whether for the charity in general or of the kind described above, should meet the standards set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice.

 

  1. Management of funds

The suffering of both those in Ukraine and of refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries has instigated an enormous charitable response from people across Scotland and the UK.

While this is extremely heartening and something of which we should be rightfully proud, it can also lead to groups of people, unincorporated bodies and small charities with limited financial governance infrastructure suddenly receiving large sums of money.

Charity trustees must ensure they have appropriate financial controls in place. Our Guidance and Good Practice for Charity Trustees guidance has a section on Charity Finance which includes a section dedicated to financial controls.

Furthermore, there may be a temptation for ad hoc fundraising groups to ask a charity to ‘look after’ funds if the group doesn’t have a suitable means of managing the funds (for example if they don’t have a business bank account).

While this would not necessarily be in breach of charity legislation, the charity must give extremely careful consideration to the following points:

  • Would this be in the best interests of the charity and is it consistent with the charity’s purposes?
  • Are the charity’s resources protected and would this in any way put the assets of the charity at risk?
  • Are suitable controls over financial procedures in place to protect the charity’s assets and is there any risk that the charity’s own account could be misused?
  • How will the funds be monitored and what processes are in place to ensure they are spent correctly?
  • Have the funds been collected legitimately and for this specified purpose?

And, as with any decision, the trustees must give the matter their full consideration as to why it was in the best interests of the charity, ensure that their decisions are carefully documented and that the trustees can subsequently fully explain any decision they have made.