Donation acceptance policy

Making sure our fundraising is legal, open, honest and accountable - and in our best interest.

Approved: 30 March 2019
Version: 2
Content owner: Fundraising

As Girlguiding volunteers, staff, members or trustees you understand how vital our fundraising is to us.

Donations help us continue to give girls and young women great guiding experiences that can change lives. Our aim is to make sure our fundraising is legal, open, honest and accountable - and in our best interest.

Sometimes we may need to refuse a donation – most times we can accept. This policy explains to all Girlguiding volunteers, staff and trustees how Girlguiding approaches accepting and refusing donations.

  • Charity Commission – the body that registers and regulates charities in England and Wales, making sure the public can support charities with confidence.
  • Donation – a sum of money or gift with cash value that's given to Girlguiding. This does not include gifts in kind given to individual people, but does include gifts in kind given to the organisation.
  • Ex-gratia payment – a payment made as a result of a compelling moral - but not legal - obligation.
  • Fundraising Regulator – the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Girlguiding – means the Guide Association, registered charity no.306016, and all local units, countries, regions, counties, divisions and districts.
  • NICC –  The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
  • OSCR – the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  • Partner –  trusts and foundations, corporate partners or major donors.
  • Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel –  the fundraising regulator for charities only registered in Scotland.
  • Small cash donor – donations from one source, totalling £10k or less per year.
  • Trustees – all Girlguiding trustees at UK, country, region, county, division, district and unit level. Trustees have the ultimate responsibility for all decisions - even where decision-making has been delegated to staff or volunteers. You must make your decisions to accept or refuse donations in the best interests of Girlguiding.

What legislation do I follow?

Trustees have the ultimate responsibility for decisions about accepting donations. There is no legal statute to guide trustees on this matter, but there is legislation that trustees and advisers must make sure is met when deciding whether or not to accept donations.

Relevant legislation includes:

  • The Charities Act 1992: in relation to commercial participators and professional fundraisers.
  • The Charities Act 2011: in relation to seeking the views of the Charity Commission on whether to accept or refuse a particular donation, or an order to sanction the trustees’ dealings with charity property.
  • The Bribery Act 2010: in relation to bribery offences.
  • Finance Act 2011: in relation to tainted charity donations.
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002: in relation to suspected money laundering.
  • Terrorism Act 2000: in relation to disclosures of beliefs or suspicions of terrorism offences.

Trustees must also take decisions relating to the acceptance or refusal of donations in the best interests of the charity.

What types of donations can Girlguiding accept?

  • Cash of any amount.
  • Publicly traded shares at fair market values.
  • Land and buildings.
  • Personal property.
  • Gifts in kind such as - but not limited to - venues, catering and advertising.

Girlguiding may also be named as the beneficiary of planned gifts:

  • Residuary legacies – a gift made of some or all of the remainder of an estate after all other gifts have been handed out and debts paid off.
  • Pecuniary legacies – a gift made of a fixed sum of money.
  • Specific legacies – a particular named item left as a gift in a will, for example shares, property, jewellery, furniture or a painting.

Due diligence

Girlguiding must undertake due diligence on potential partners before donations are accepted. However we don’t need to know the identity (or try to find out the identity) of each small cash donor.

Girlguiding takes a risk-based approach to due diligence. This means we must identify and weigh up risks and benefits to Girlguiding with our due diligence checks.

When can Girlguiding refuse donations?

Girlguiding can only refuse a donation - as explained by the Institute of Fundraising - when:

  • It would be unlawful to accept it (for example the gift comprises the proceeds of crime).
  • Accepting the donation would be detrimental to the achievement of the purposes of the Girlguiding, as set out in our royal charter. Such detriment or anticipated detriment has to be set against the benefit of having the funds from the donor, which enable Girlguiding to pursue its purposes.

When can Girlguiding return donations?

Under charity law, and in common with all registered charities, Girlguiding is only able to refund donations in certain circumstances including:

  • If the terms and conditions of the gift provide for it to be returned in particular circumstances; or
  • Where the law specifically provides for the gift to be returned in particular circumstances; or
  • By way of an ex-gratia payment (except for Scotland where this is not allowed, as the distribution of charitable funds for non-charitable purposes is prohibited.)

Depending on the circumstances, there may be restrictions on whether a donation can be returned, and the relevant charity regulator may need to allow such returns by issuing a specific order.

Where can I get more information or advice?

Contact our fundraising team or your country or regional office to seek advice.

As a trustee in England and Wales you can seek the view of the Charity Commission under section 110 Charities Act 2011 (power to give advice), or an order from the Charity Commission sanctioning a decision under section 105 Charities Act 2011 (power to authorise dealings with charity property etc).

Under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 a charity may, in respect of donations, seek the advice of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland under Section 46. This section gives the Commission the power to ‘authorise dealings and to act upon any decisions which may be expedient to the charity’. This comes with the added power of being able to sanction their decision to return or refuse a donation.

Trustees of charities which are governed by OSCR should seek professional legal advice if they are concerned about a particular donation, to ensure they fulfil their legal duties when opting to accept or refuse the donation. Contact Girlguiding Scotland.