As many people across Britain look to support international aid efforts in response to earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Fundraising Regulator are urging the public to ‘give safely’.
This comes as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launches a Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal. The DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently in times of crisis overseas.
Launched today (Wednesday 8th February), the Appeal aims to secure urgent funding and support for people across Turkey and Syria who need immediate help to survive after disastrous earthquakes have had widespread impact across both countries since the 6th February 2023.
Both regulators are reminding people to check charities are registered and legitimate as people make generous donations to causes helping to support people affected by the earthquakes.
DEC members and other registered charities are providing vital life-saving aid like food, water and healthcare to those affected. Many are also supplying cold weather kits to help people stay warm. By supporting registered charities, including through the DEC, the public can be assured that their donations will be regulated and accounted for in line with charity law.
Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:
The impacts of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria are shocking and devastating. Charities are once again stepping in to support those in need. I know that so many people across the UK will want to contribute and so I want to ensure every donation reaches its intended cause. This is why we are reminding everyone to give through the DEC or follow our simple steps, such as checking our online register, to make sure they’re giving safely.
Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator said:
The situation following the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria is horrifying to witness, and thousands have lost their lives or have been injured.
The British public are generous and will be eager to support the relief work led by the DEC and its member charities where they can. Please carry out our recommended checks before donating money or goods to make sure you are giving to a genuine cause and that your generously donated money reaches its intended destination.
Established charities with experience of responding to disasters are usually best placed to reach people on the ground. Giving financial aid through humanitarian aid organisations, rather than sending donated goods directly to regions, is also often more practical and sustainable.
While most fundraising is genuine, the Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator warn that fraudsters and criminals can take advantage of public generosity at times of increased giving. This includes using various methods such as fake appeal websites, email appeals that falsely use the name of genuine charities, or appeals from groups claiming to be charities.
The regulators therefore encourage people to ensure they support genuine relief efforts by following a few simple steps before giving:
- check the charity’s name and registration number on the Charity Register at www.gov.uk/checkcharity – most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
- make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information.
- be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
- contact or find out more online about the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with to understand how they are spending their funds
- look out for the Fundraising Badge – the logo that says ‘registered with Fundraising Regulator’ – and check the Fundraising Regulator’s Directory of organisations which have committed to fundraise in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice.
In 2021, 307 registered charities reported working in Turkey and/or Syria, spending over £220 million on charitable activity.
After making these checks:
- If you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to the police. If you think the collection is fraudulent report it to Action Fraud over the phone at 0300 123 2040 or online.
- If you think a collector does not have a licence – report it to the relevant Local Authority Licensing Team or the Metropolitan Police (if in Greater London). Also let the charity know if you can.
Members of the public initiating their own informal fundraising appeals that are not linked to established registered charities should be aware of the ongoing responsibilities associated with overseeing and managing funds and ensuring they are applied in line with donors’ wishes.
You can also complain about a charity to the Charity Commission if you have concerns about a charity’s governance and the Fundraising Regulator if you have concerns about its fundraising.
- Further tips on giving safely to registered charities are available on GOV.UK
- The Charity Commission is the independent, non-ministerial government department that registers and regulates charities in England and Wales. Its purpose is to ensure charity can thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society.
- The Fundraising Regulator is the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Further guidance on giving safely to charity is available on the Fundraising Regulator’s website. It can be reached on