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Charities given new guidance on decisions about donations


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The Charity Commission has published new guidance designed to help charities when they face decisions over whether to refuse or return a donation.

Generally, the starting point for a charity is to accept donations given to the charity. However, they are certain circumstances where they must refuse a donation and the new guidelines help to make this clearer.

The guidelines set out the type of donations that legally must be refused or returned. These include donations received from illegal sources or come with illegal conditions. An example would be where the donation has come from terrorist or other criminal activity.

Other situations where there is a legal obligation to refuse or return a donation include where the donation:

  • has come from someone who does not have the mental ability to decide to donate.
  • cannot legally be given to the charity. This might happen if the donor does not actually own what they are donating.
  • has terms requiring its return. For instance, a donation might have a term that it must be used within a certain period of time, which would require any unused funds to be returned at that time.


There are, though, other reasons why a charity might be likely to need to refuse or return a donation, and these are discussed in the guidance. The guidance also reviews steps that a charity might be able to take so that it can accept the donation.

The guidelines are available to review here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accepting-refusing-and-returning-donations-to-your-charity#what-we-mean-by-a-donation




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