The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are reviewing ways in which online charitable platforms operate, following concerns about possible fraudulent activity, oversight of the end-use of funds and transparency about the fees charged by sites
The Commission held a summit with senior representatives from 14 of the major giving platforms in the UK, to discuss these issues and collectively agree principles to increase public understanding and transparency about the different forms of donating on online platforms in order to secure public trust and confidence.
The regulator said that recent events including terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and the Grenfell Tower fire have heightened these concerns given the large amount of money raised for victims on these platforms in a short amount of time.
Discussions at the summit covered a number of issues, including the role online giving platforms increasingly play in connecting people and communities who want to give and those in need, and the tension between the speed of public response to disasters and high profile humanitarian events and the pace with which charities can distribute funds raised to beneficiaries.
The discussions looked at the issues around platforms which offer the opportunity for crowdfunding and person to person fundraising as well as donating direct to a charity.
The Commission felt more could be done, working collaboratively, to ensure clear and consistent advice across different platforms and generally to the public. It highlighted the need to avoid confusion about, for example, accountability to the Charity Commission, eligibility for gift aid, and what happens in the event of a failed appeal. Platforms agreed to work with the Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator to agree and disseminate clear and consistent public advice about the choices available for donating.
The Commission and Fundraising Regulator plan to work with the platforms in reviewing their resilience to fraud and to create a new forum to share advice and intelligence about potential fraud threats.
There is also a push to create greater transparency for donors around different platforms’ fees and charges, so that it is clear upfront what proportion of any donation will reach the charity.
The Commission and the Fundraising Regulator will report back to the minister for civil society on the progress of discussions and their assessment of the adequacy of the current regulatory framework.
Report by Pat Sweet