22/04/2020 - Permalink

Coronavirus: Advice for giving safely to charities

Related topics: Community / Coronavirus / Public protection

Shropshire Council is urging people in the county to give safely when they choose to donate to charities responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

People across the county are generously giving to charities to support those in need in an amazing demonstration of community spirit and togetherness.

Unfortunately, there are people who are looking to profit from this terrible situation by exploiting the kindness of others.

The council, in partnership with the Charity Commission, the Fundraising Regulator, Action Fraud and Trading Standards, encourage you to only give to genuine registered charities.

Regulators are receiving increasing reports of scammers targeting vulnerable people by posing as fundraisers collecting money for charity. These scammers are diverting vital funds away from genuine causes.

Action Fraud and Trading Standards have received reports of fraudsters seeking to exploit the pandemic by targeting vulnerable people, for example, posing as charity volunteers offering to help with shopping, offering fake virus testing, or claiming to be raising funds for charity.

If you choose to donate you should only support registered charities, to be sure your funds are reaching those in need at a time when many face an increased demand for their services.

There are many registered charities based in Shropshire, and many more national charities that that are dealing with the pandemic and continuing to do important work throughout the country to support vulnerable people and communities.

By giving to a registered, regulated charity, you can have assurance that your funds will be accounted for in line with charity law.

How can I give safely to registered charities?

  • Check the charity’s name and registration number at uk/checkcharity. Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
  • Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information – it’s OK to decide not to give on the spot. Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of, and be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
  • Exercise the same caution as with any other Internet transaction. For example, to donate online visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself.
  • Contact or find out more online about the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with to find out more about their spending. Ask a trusted friend, neighbour or relative if you are unable to research this or need a second opinion.
  • Ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company.
  • If in doubt about an approach, give to a charity that you have an existing relationship with.

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:

“The generosity and spirit that people across Shropshire have demonstrated since this crisis started has been incredible. I would like to thank all those who have been looking out for vulnerable family, friends and neighbours.

“Charities across Shropshire and the rest of the UK are forming a crucial part of the response to coronavirus, supporting the vulnerable and communities to help keep everyone safe.

“If you choose to donate, please be vigilant against any ‘charity scams’ and only give to registered charities to help ensure these vital funds and invaluable support reach those who need it most.

“Together, we can look after those right across Shropshire who need our help, and ensure this terrible situation strengthens our communities.”

Baroness Tina Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, said:

“British people have a proud tradition of charitable giving and generosity, and this pandemic is already giving rise to that spirit of charity and community that brings people together. We want to ensure that people do so safely and in the most effective way possible so that people in need get help. We encourage everyone wanting to donate money to follow our simple steps to check that they are donating to a registered charity. By giving to a registered charity, the public can have assurance that their funds are regulated by the Charity Commission.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, said:

“Charities are a lifeline to many local communities and play a vital role in supporting people across the UK, particularly at a time of national crisis. In what is the most significant public health emergency in generations, we encourage the public to continue to give generously throughout these difficult times. Unfortunately, we have heard of some individuals who have used the coronavirus pandemic as a means of defrauding the public, so we urge you to check that an organisation is legitimate before you give to it. For more helpful advice on giving to charity safely, please read our guidance here.”

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:

“As people stay indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, criminals are preying on people in vulnerable situations who are isolated and living alone. The criminals often claim to represent charities to help them appear legitimate before taking the victim’s money. There are genuine charities providing support, so consumers should be vigilant and ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent a charity.

“There’s never been a more important time for neighbours to look out for each other – particularly as we self-isolate – which is why we’re encouraging communities to prevent scams in their local area by using the free Friends Against Scams resources. Our online courses will help you spot a potential scam, identify people at risk and help you protect local residents from falling victims to scams. We’re urging communities to protect each other from scams and encourage people to share the latest advice with families, friends and neighbours.”

Keep informed and sign up to our daily coronavirus email updates

Shropshire Council wants to keep you as up to date and informed as possible. To help us do this, we have developed a coronavirus update that will be sent daily at 8pm via email to anyone who has signed up to our e-bulletins.

This update includes the day’s key Shropshire Council news, and some key news from our partners, relating to coronavirus-linked issues.  Please click here to sign up for the updates.

Please do encourage your family and friends to sign up to the updates too. This will help us keep everyone up to date with the rapidly-evolving crisis.

Further Information

Contact the Charity Commission press office [spokespeople are available for comment]

Email – pressenquiries@charitycommission.gov.uk

Telephone (office hours) – 0300 065 2123

Telephone (out of hours) – 07785 748787

Content the Fundraising Regulator press office 

Email – fr@pagefield.co.uk

Telephone – 020 3327 4050

  1. National Trading Standards have seen reports of thieves extorting money from people by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’, posing as fundraisers who are carrying out door-to-door collections, or offering to sell dubious Covid-19 testing kits.
  2. Information about wider COVID-19 related scams is available here: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/article/505/beware_of_covid_19_scams