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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Commission urges people to give safely when responding to the crisis in Ukraine

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Advice to the public wishing to donate during the emergency in Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine has arisen very quickly, with many people and organisations working to offer support to the people of Ukraine, where they can.

Emergencies such as this need to be responded to with urgency, but it is also important that your support, whether that is money, goods or time, is being used as it should be.

Frances McCandless, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Chief Executive, has urged the public to remember that the quickest and most effective way to help the Ukrainian people is to contribute via a registered charity.

She continued: “You should look for a charity that already has a track record of providing the kind of practical supports and assistance that the Ukrainian people, and those who are supporting them, need at this time. Especially charities which have significant experience of providing assistance to refugees and displaced people, of operating in conflict zones and working with international partners.

“The outpouring of support in response to this crisis is typical of the well-known generosity of the people of Northern Ireland, but unfortunately in these situations there are also people who will try to take advantage of this generosity. They will use different means to direct funds raised for charitable purposes for their own personal gain. It’s important that funds and goods are given to organisations that can deliver them.”

You can check whether a charity is registered and has this experience by going to the register of charities on the Commission’s website. If the charity is not listed, you should also check the Commission’s public combined list which details organisations awaiting contact by the Commission to apply for charity registration.

The Commission has also offered the following advice to charities wishing to help in this crisis

You must consider your charity’s existing charitable purposes (sometimes known as objects). These are set out in your governing document. Charities must work towards achieving their purposes. Purposes that might already allow you to offer support include:

  • the relief of poverty
  • the relief of need hardship or distress
  • the relief of the elderly
  • the advancement of health.

In considering what you can do under your existing purposes you will also need to check whether your purposes have restrictions, for example, to benefit a particular local area or type of beneficiary.

You must consider too whether your charity has the capacity to respond or whether other charities are better placed to respond to this particular emergency.

If you are going to fundraise for this emergency you must:

  • ensure all fundraising material clearly identifies your charity and includes your registered charity number. This is a legal requirement for registered charities and will help ensure that your appeal is not mistaken for a fraudulent appeal.
  • keep accurate and comprehensive records of donations.
  • account separately for emergency appeals to make sure that you keep accurate financial records.

If you are not a charity but an individual or another organisation that wants to fundraise for an existing charity you should:

  • check with the charity before fundraising for them.
  • check out their webpage for their advice and information for supporters.
  • on no account use the name of a charity without its permission.
  • make sure your material doesn’t make your organisation appear as if it is a charity, if it is not.

If you have already set up an appeal and have begun to fundraise:

Go to the Fundraising Regulator’s website and check out the Code of fundraising practice. There are legal rules around how fundraising is carried out, these are to keep the public, charities and fundraisers safe from people who would use a crisis to direct funds for their personal gain.