Regulator urges charities operating in Ukraine to follow guidance

04 Mar 2022 News

The Charity Commission has reminded charities operating in Ukraine to sign-up for updates about sanctions and follow guidance for operating in high-risk areas. 

Russia invaded Ukraine last week and the fighting has led to more than 2,000 civilian deaths. Attacks have also destroyed homes and infrastructure, and over a million people have been displaced. 

In a statement this week, Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a shocking event, which has upturned the lives of many millions of people in Ukraine, and challenges the sense of peace and security in which many Europeans have lived for two generations. 

“It seems probable that the repercussions will impact widely across society, including for many charities registered with us, responding to these events as they unfold.” 

She warned that those charities operating in Russian “may come under increasing pressure as a result of the implications of sanctions, difficulties in transferring funds and because of the operating environment for civil society in that country”. 

Charities should, Stephenson said, sign-up to updates from HM Treasury and guidance from Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation

The Commission also urged charities to familiarise themselves with the regulator’s guidance about operating in high-risk areas. 

Fundraising appeals 

Many charities have launched fundraising appeals, including the Disasters Emergency Committee. 

This week the Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator reminded charities of guidance about running effective appeals. 

The regulators have also issued safer giving advice to the public. Stephenson said that giving to registered charities with experience delivering aid is “often the most efficient and helpful way to help those in need”.

Finally, the Commission also offered charities a reminder about potential reputational risks when it comes to accepting donations from Russian sources. 

Stephenson said: “All charities should also know their donors, and consider whether or not to accept donations, including where there may be a reputational implication for them in doing so. Our guidance is here, and we encourage all charities to read this in light of the current international context. We also have general guidance on managing risks when working internationally.

“There will be other implications for charities, both short and long term, that we cannot yet predict. The Commission will remain alive to the issues and risks facing charities, and we encourage charities to do likewise. We will promote or update our guidance as needed. We want to help support charities, which play such a vital role in our society, to get it right and make the biggest impact possible.”

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