Charity sector regulators are urging the public to take care when donating to charity, and have launched their annual safer giving campaign.
The Fundraising Regulator, Charity Commission, and Action Fraud campaign launches this Charity Fraud Awareness Week, which takes place from 27 November to 1 December.
Fraudsters diverted more than £2.7m from charities in the last year, according to Action Fraud, and there were 501 charity fraud crime reports between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023.
Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “The festive period is always marked by increased charitable giving by the British public, who are always exceedingly generous when donating to charities.
“While fraudsters continue to be creative, a few simple checks will increase the chances your donation will go to a legitimate cause.”
The regulators note that most charity fundraising is genuine, but fraudsters sometimes take advantage of public generosity at times of increased giving, using methods such as fake appeal websites, email appeals that falsely use the name of genuine charities or appeals from fake charities.
Steps and tips for giving safely include checking the charity’s name and registration number on the Charity Register (if the charity has an income of more than £5,000) and being careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
Fraud case largely consistent with 2021-22
The number and cost of charity fraud cases are largely consistent with the previous year, the Action Fraud data suggests.
The total amount lost between November 2022 and October 2023 was £2,732,170 and 501 cases were reported, compared with 517 reports and £2,748,340 lost between November 2021 and October 2022.
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “All year-round, charities across the country work tirelessly to help those greatest in need. Some fraudsters may take advantage of our generosity, they may claim to be raising money for a fake organisation or impersonate a well-known charity. This can block legitimate donations, but also impact the good work of the charity.
“Most fundraising appeals are genuine, so the risk of fraud shouldn’t put you off giving to charities. Instead, follow a few simple steps to ensure your donations don’t end up in the wrong hands. Make sure you do thorough research before donating, to be confident that you are giving safely to legitimate organisations.”