The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published safer giving advice aimed at assisting the public in making informed choices about charitable donations and giving this Christmas.
Frances McCandless, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said that their guidance was being issued to help both donors and charities.
The ten tips for safer giving this Christmas are:
Check the list of ‘deemed charities’ on the Charity Commission's website. Not all charities will be on the list as it is not yet a legal requirement to register with the Charity Commission. The list does show which organisations have registered with HM Revenue and Customs for tax purposes and are therefore subject to the Commission's powers.
To donate online to a particular charity, look for that charity's website. Check that you have the right web address.
Be very careful when responding to emails or clicking links on emails. Always check that emails are genuine by looking out for spelling mistakes or other signs that the email is not genuine. If you have any concerns about the legitimacy of a request for donations that appears to come from a charity, don't hesitate to contact that charity directly.
Check whether a collector has the authority to collect. A permit or license is usually required if raising money in a public place. These permits are obtained through the PSNI at present.
Ask the collector how much of your donation goes to the charity. There's no fixed rule about what percentage should be given to charity, but our advice is for people to ask what proportion of gross profit goes to the charity. This allows you to make an informed choice before you give.
Ask the collector for more information about what donations will be used for. A genuine charity will understand that you may wish to know more and should be happy to answer questions.
Check that the collection tin is sealed and that it is not damaged.
If in doubt send your donation directly to the charity.
It is always good practice for charities to tell you how much your money has been used after you have given through via emails, newsletter or other communications.
If have a concern about a charity, you can contact the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and raise a about the operation of that charity.