Charity Commission
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Charity Commission encourages safer giving for East Africa Crisis Appeal

The regulator has issued advice for the public when donating to help people in East Africa.

The Charity Commission, the independent charity regulator for England and Wales, has released advice for those wishing to donate to help people affected by the humanitarian crisis in East Africa. This follows the launch of the East Africa Crisis Appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) last Wednesday.

Public support to charities delivering humanitarian aid is essential when crisis hits, and with famine reaching alarming levels in East Africa, it is essential that donations reach genuine charities. The Commission says that most fundraising is genuine, but that fraudsters and criminals do take advantage of public generosity when fundraising is at its heights, using various methods such as fake appeal websites, email appeals that falsely use the name of genuine charities, or appeals from fake charities. The regulator says it wants to give the public confidence to give safely to genuine relief efforts by following a few simple steps before giving, including checking a charity’s name and registration number against the online charity search tool and being careful when responding to emails or clicking links within them. It is advising people not to ‘click-through’ from suspicious-looking emails and to beware of unfamiliar or excessively long website addresses.

Paula Sussex, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said:

The British public is extremely generous, especially at times of desperate humanitarian need like we are seeing in East Africa right now. It is vital that people can continue to give with confidence to charities working to relieve that need, such as through the DEC appeal to its member charities. We want to help ensure they do so safely. We are aware that unfortunately times of crisis can trigger scammers to take advantage of people’s generosity and abuse the name and work of charities by fraudulently collecting money. But by following a few simple steps, you can make sure your donation goes where it is most needed.

The DEC brings together 13 leading UK aid charities who are experts in humanitarian aid and deliver efficient disaster responses to those affected by the appealed crises. They are all registered charities.

Saleh Saeed, Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee, stresses the urgency of the East Africa Appeal:

The Disasters Emergency Committee will only launch an appeal when disasters reach a scale that requires swift international humanitarian assistance.

There are currently 16 million people, with an alarming number of children, on the brink of starvation in East Africa. They are in urgent need of food, water and medical treatment.

We want to encourage people to give to genuine registered charities, such as our member charities who are already on the ground delivering life-saving assistance in all affected countries. Donating now will enable them to reduce the scale and severity of the crisis.

Other registered charities are also involved in the relief efforts and are collecting funds to support charity and NGO aid work in East Africa.

The Commission is advising people to take a few simple steps to avoid fraudulent fundraising:

  • before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number on our online register of charities - it can help you make an informed decision before donating by providing information about each charity, including its charitable purposes and activities, registered contact details, and its compliance and financial history and accounts
  • take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine - instead, search online for your preferred charity to check you have the right web address
  • 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 to request further information
  • when approached by collectors on the street, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed

If you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, you can report it as a crime to Action Fraud over the phone at 0300 123 2040 or online and inform the Charity Commission online.

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
  2. Search for charities on our online register.
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