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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Charity regulator launches guide to giving safely to charity

With the festive season fast approaching, Northern Ireland’s charity regulator has launched a guide to support the public in giving safely to charity this Christmas.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s Guide to giving safely to charities, available below, contains a series of top tips to help you avoid scams and ensure your donation is going to a bona fide charity.

Download Guide to giving safely to charity PDF (565.6 KB)

Download Guide to giving safely to charity - printable version PDF (536.5 KB)

Chief Charity Commissioner, Tom McGrath, said: “Christmas can be an important fundraising opportunity for charities, with campaigns such as lotteries, festive gifts and street collections ramping up.

“However, this can also mean that fraudsters spot an opportunity to line their own pockets, and take advantage of the well-meaning and generous public.

“While rare, incidents of fraudulent fundraising can have a devastating impact on those who believe they are donating to a good cause, as well as on public trust in the charity sector as a whole.
“That’s why I am encouraging everyone to take some time to undertake a few basic checks so that they can give what they can afford in confidence.”

Top Safe Giving Tips

1. Ask if the charity has registered with the Commission and, if so, what is their registration number. All registered Northern Ireland charities should have a unique charity number, beginning with NIC, for example NIC100161.

2. Around 6,000 charities have been registered by the Commission so far. If a charity has been registered by the Commission you can search for it via the public register of charities.

3. If a charity is not yet registered, check they are known to the Commission and are listed on the Commission’s online Combined list.

4. To donate online to a charity, look for the charity's website - check you have the right web address.

5. Be careful when responding to emails or clicking links. Check emails are genuine by looking for spelling mistakes, unusual sender addresses, suspect logos or other signs the email is suspicious.

6. If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to contact the charity directly.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – for example you might want to know how much of your donation goes to the charity. There's no fixed rule about what percentage should be given to charity, but you could ask what proportion of gross profit goes to the charity.

8. It is always good practice for charities to tell you how your money has been used after you have given. They might do this, for example, via emails, social media, adverts or a newsletter.

9. Check whether a collector has the authority to collect. A permit or licence is usually required if raising money in a public place. These permits are obtained through the PSNI at present.

10. Check that the collection tin is sealed and not damaged or tampered with. If in any doubt send your donation directly to the charity.


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Commission for Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169 or email:

Notes to editors

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland, established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

The Commission has statutory objectives to ensure trustees comply with their legal obligations in managing charities, and to increase public trust and confidence in charities.