Collecting Funds for the Haiti appeal – a Simple Guide for the Public

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I want to do something for the Haiti appeal – how can I help?

You can make a personal donation to an established appeal fund – the main appeal is being co-ordinated by the Disasters Emergency Committee (www.dec.org.uk) (the DEC appeal).

Some charities may be able to use their funds to assist this or other appeals, or work directly in the affected areas.

Some people may wish to organise local collections, usually to pass on to an established appeal fund.

If I organise a collection in my area, do I need a licence?

If you are collecting in public (from house to house, or on the street), then you may need permission from your local authority (or the Metropolitan Police, if you live in a London Borough).

Do:

  • Contact your Local Authority (Met Police) to find out what permission you need
  • Check if others are already collecting – can you join forces with them, rather than duplicate the appeal?
  • Collect on behalf of a named organisation where possible

What rules and regulations do I need to be aware of? Once we’ve collected money for the appeal, what should we do with it?

The laws around collecting money for charity in public are there to protect the public and make sure that what you give goes to a genuine charitable cause. When a disaster like this happens, many people react spontaneously to do their bit to support an appeal. The response can be overwhelmingly generous, and local efforts can certainly help towards the overall appeal, as well as getting people involved. However, there are some common sense safeguards you should be aware of if organising a collection:

Do:

  • Make sure you have the necessary permission from your local authority
  • Only collect using a sealed tin or container
  • Always make sure you state the charity name and registration number
  • Always make sure there is more than one person to count the collection proceeds and sign off the total amount

Some tips:

  • Bank any cash as soon as possible, preferably straight into the charity account. Get the receipt from the Bank/Building Society
  • Report back to your community, so they are reassured that the money has reached the good cause. Perhaps notices in shops/post offices, or letting your local paper know how much you raised and thanking people for their support

Remember – Gift Aid can save lives!

Gift Aid means that if you are a basic rate tax payer, for every £10 you give using Gift Aid, it's worth £12.50 to the charity. For donations between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2011 the charity will also get a separate government supplement of 3p on every pound you give. When you consider how many millions will have been given, that’s a substantial extra amount towards the aid effort. Encourage people to Gift Aid their donations by filling in the simple form here.

This just contains very simple questions about your name, address and amount of donation, and asks you to declare that you want it treated as Gift Aid.

If you are arranging a local collection, please think about printing off some of these forms and asking donors to fill them in. When you have banked the donations from a local collection, send off all the Gift Aid forms to the charity, who will be able to reclaim the tax on them. It may be helpful to include the bank/building society receipt to prove that those amounts have been given.

For more information on Gift Aid click here.

If you are donating over the counter to a charity such as the Disasters Emergency Committee, most banks have in place a system which will enable you to take advantage of Gift Aid when making a donation. Building Societies should also be aware of the scheme. Please ask if in doubt.

How do I know a charity’s genuine?

It is so important that your donations go to a genuine charity. Sadly, there are people who would take advantage of your generosity, so our advice is to keep giving, but follow these guidelines to make sure your money goes where it’s needed.

Do:

  • Read our Safer Giving guidance
  • Remember that, if a charity is registered with us, it will have a unique charity registration number. If you’re in any doubt about a collector, ask for the charity name and number. Then, if you’re not happy about giving then and there, you can check to see if the charity is on our public register on our website.

People in our parish/church/group/PTA/mosque or temple want to collect for the appeal. Should we set up own appeal fund?

In order to make the best and most efficient use of any funds raised for the disaster, we are strongly advising members of the public to donate funds to, or raise funds on behalf of, well established charities (such as the DEC appeal) rather than try and set up new charities. Existing charities already have the expertise and resources to make the best use of donations.

What’s the best charity to donate to?

You can look for particular charities or types of charity on the Register of Charities on our website. We generally hold other information about registered charities, such as their governing documents and accounts, which may help you choose. The DEC appeal (the main appeal) is referred to above.

Can my charity donate charitable funds to the earthquake appeal?

It depends what your charity’s objects are. You need to consider two main things:

  • Do your objects allow you to help people affected by the disaster? For example if your objects are to relieve poverty, advance religion or to promote any charitable purpose, this would be OK. If your objects are, however, to support your local village hall, this would not
  • Are there any restrictions which prevent you from doing so? E.g. your charity can only help people who live in Yorkshire/the UK

If your objects allow it, you can go ahead and raise funds via your charity for the appeal. If your objects are more restricted, then you can still give directly, or organise a collection in your personal capacity. You just need to take care to ensure that the collection is not made in the name of or on behalf of your charity.

In summary, if your charity is considering making a donation our advice is for you to check what its objects are and any restrictions that may apply. If you’re still not sure whether your charity can make a donation, seek advice from the Commission (helpline number 0845 3000 218).

If I donate to the earthquake appeal how can I be sure my money will be spent well, spent quickly and meet real needs?

The best way to ensure this is to donate to one or more of the many well established charities – for example the DEC appeal. Registered charities like this are regulated by the Charity Commission and have the knowledge and resources to ensure that their funds are used where and how most needed.

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