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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Give with confidence to charity this Christmas

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has urged anyone considering donating to charity this Christmas to give with confidence by undertaking some simple checks first. 

“Christmas is a traditional time of giving and many charities hope to avail of people’s generosity over the festive period to help fund their ongoing activities and services,” said Tom McGrath, Chief Charity Commissioner.

“However, while welcoming this generosity, I would encourage anyone giving to a charity this Christmas to follow the Commission’s top ten giving tips – including checking our registration list and/or register of charities to ensure we know about the charity.”

It is compulsory for all charities in Northern Ireland to apply for registration with the Commission.  According to estimates there are between 7,000 and 12,000 charities in Northern Ireland, with the Commission working to manage registration by calling charities forward to apply in tranches.

At present, there are over 3,200 charities registered and listed on the public register of charities, available to search here, with more charities registered on a weekly, often daily, basis. 

In addition to the register, the Commission has also published a registration list which details the names of each charity it is aware of to call forward to apply for registration. This list also details where, to date, a charity is registered, has been refused registration or has closed. 

While checking the registration list is its top tip, the Commission has also highlighted additional checks which can be undertaken when donating to charity this Christmas.

The Commission’s safer Christmas giving tips:

1. Check the registration list, available to view here, to ensure the Commission knows about the charity and it is prepared to meet its legal duty to apply for registration.

2. If the charity has been registered by the Commission then search for it via the public register of charities to find out important information on its charitable purposes and public benefit.

3. To donate online to a particular charity, look for that charity's website. Check that you have the right web address.

4. Be careful when responding to emails or clicking links on emails. Always check emails are genuine by looking out for spelling mistakes or other signs that the email is not genuine. If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to contact the charity directly.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Check that the collection tin is sealed and that it is not damaged.

9. If in doubt send your donation directly to the charity.

10. It is always good practice for charities to tell you how your money has been used after you have given via emails, newsletters or other communications.


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169, mobile: 07827338978 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.