Public urged to donate safely this Christmas as it’s revealed £1.6m was lost to online charity fraud over the past year

The Fundraising Regulator, the Charity Commission for England and Wales, National Trading Standards and Action Fraud are joining forces to call on the public to give safely when donating online.

Data from Action Fraud reveals that £1.6m of the public’s money was lost to online charity fraud over the past year.

The fraud captured by this data includes asks for donations for non-existent charities and the fraudulent collection of funds from genuine charities. Action Fraud’s data shows that the £1.6m loss to fraud is up by 16% on the figure reported in the previous year.

The call for the public to give safely this Christmas is being co-ordinated by the Fundraising Regulator – the body which oversees charitable fundraising in the UK. It is encouraging the public to take steps to protect themselves online, particularly as the nation approaches the festive period, during which appeals for charitable donations increase.

The campaign is urging members of the public to conduct some simple checks before giving to charity, to make sure their donations reach the intended recipient. This includes:

  • Check the charity name and its registration number on the Charity Commission website to find out whether the charity is legitimate.
  • Use the Fundraising Regulator’s online Directory to find out whether a charity has registered with it and committed to excellent fundraising.
  • Look out for the Fundraising Badge on charity marketing materials – when people see it, they can have confidence in charity’s fundraising.
  • Ask questions about the cause – if people are still unsure about giving, they should always ask for more information. Legitimate causes will be happy to respond.

Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator said:

“The British public is always exceedingly generous when giving to charity, and we want to make sure that they can continue to do so, safe in the knowledge that their donation is going to its intended cause.

“Just a few simple steps – including looking out for the Fundraising Badge, which means a charity has committed to best practice – will help the general public to make informed decisions when donating to good causes, and we are pleased to be working closely with other regulators to deliver this important message.”

Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud, said:

“Charities work tirelessly all year round to help those in greatest need. Sadly, criminals will try to abuse the generosity and goodwill of others and this can have a huge financial impact on charities and the causes they support.

“We would encourage people not to be put off donating to charities, but to follow a few simple steps to ensure your donations don’t end up in the wrong hands this Christmas. Make sure you do your research before donating to ensure you’re giving your money to a legitimate charity this Christmas.”

Mike Andrews, National Co-ordinator at the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, said:

“Online fraudsters are preying on the goodwill of generous people digging deep to give to charitable causes. If you are looking to make a charitable contribution online this festive period, it’s important to carry out some checks to ensure your money goes where you intend it to. Follow the advice from the Fundraising Regulator and, before you part with your money, check the website to ensure it is genuine.”

Paul Latham, Director of Communications and Policy at the Charity Commission said:

“Many people give very generously at Christmas. By making simple online checks, donors can ensure their hard-earned money reaches genuine registered charities, which are accountable to the Charity Commission and the public for the way they are run, and how they spend their income.”


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