New guidance on accepting and refusing donations - an overview

11 March 2024
3 minutes
Trusts and FoundationsMajor DonorsCorporate PartnershipsLegacy FundraisingLeadershipStrategySupporter StewardshipRisk and Reputation ManagementGovernance and ComplianceFinancial ManagementEthics
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Our new guidance will help you create a policy to help your decision making about accepting and refusing donations

The decision to accept or refuse a donation is not always straightforward. Whilst trustees and charity staff must always act in the best interest of the charity - which means making sure the organisation has sufficient funds to carry out its charitable objectives - it also means protecting its reputation and credibility.  

Although this has always been an important part of running a charity, evolving societal opinions on certain industries and activities mean that the reputational risk of accepting donations from certain sources might be higher than previously and trustees need to be conscious of not alienating their beneficiaries or supporters. Furthermore, staff opinion on whether to accept or refuse a donation from some sources might differ within the charity itself.   

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has updated its guidance on how to create a policy on accepting and refusing donations, as the decisions of charities to refuse donations are increasingly in the spotlight.  

Decisions made about accepting and refusing donations can impact on other donors, the reputation of a charity and whether it can provide services to its beneficiaries. Therefore, having a robust policy in place to ensure fairness and accountability is important to charities of all sizes.  

Having a clear policy on accepting and refusing donations is essential to uphold a charity’s mission and values while maintaining transparency and accountability. 

It is therefore important to have a policy in place, so staff and trustees understand how to make decisions that align with charity law and ensures the organisation fulfils its charitable objectives. 

Our new guidance will help fundraisers, leaders and trustees to create a policy that is right for their charities, as well as practical hints and tips when putting it into practice. The guidance covers: 

  1. What do the rules say? 
  2. How to develop your policy 
  3. Putting policy into practice 
  4. Scenarios to consider.  

A well-defined policy helps charities manage resources efficiently, and it allows fundraisers to concentrate on raising money for their organisations.  

Furthermore, having clear guidelines in place enhances public trust in a charity and credibility. Donors want assurance that their contributions are used effectively and ethically. A transparent donation policy demonstrates the charity's commitment to responsible stewardship and can attract more support in the long run. 

This guidance is available exclusively for members of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. If you’re not a member, find out more about joining.  

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