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Giving safely during the festive season

11 Dec 2017

A lot of people make donations to charities during the festive season and this generosity makes a significant impact. We believe that giving to those in need is to be encouraged and applauded, so we would like to thank everyone who does so. 

It is important that your donations go to those you intend to support and that you protect yourself from any potential fraud in the process. There are a few simple checks you can do to ensure this.

Here are some top tips:

  1. If you are asked for a donation to a charity, check that it is genuine by searching the Scottish Charity Register (England and Wales charities are registered with Charity Commission for England and Wales).
  2. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed. Be wary of ID that looks photocopied or homemade. Check that collecting tins and buckets bear the name of the charity and are sealed and undamaged – it’s illegal to collect in ordinary containers.
  3. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  4. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  5. To check whether a fundraiser is authorised to collect money in a public place, contact your local authority. If it is a private place, check with the owner. A few Scottish charities are exempt from licensing – check with the Regulator.
  6. Take care when responding to emails or clicking direct links to a website to check they are genuine. Instead, search online for your favourite charity to check that you have the right web address.
  7. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to check whether they are from a genuine charity.
  8. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or to Police Scotland on 101. The Scottish Charity Regulator has powers to act where an organisation claims to be a charity when it is not entered in the Scottish Charity Register.
  9. If in any doubt, contact your favoured charity directly to make a donation.

Remember, it is legitimate for groups that are not charities to fundraise. However, when an organisation is a registered charity it can provide an added level of reassurance. Carrying out some or all of the above checks will help make sure that your money is going to those who really need it.