Treating Donors Fairly

Fundraisers should not accept donations from people who appear unable to make an informed decision, and should return donations if they find evidence that a person lacked capacity when making them, according to new guidance from the Institute of Fundraising.

The guidance, entitled Treating Donors Fairly, advises on implementing a new rule in the Institute of Fundraising Code of Fundraising Practice. The rule states that fundraisers should treat all donors fairly, enable them to make informed decisions, and make sure the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances are taken into account.

The rule follows a Fundraising Standards Board adjudication in April on a complaint against the PDSA about the veterinary charity's acceptance of accepted several large donations from a woman with schizophrenia. The Fundraising Standards Board did not uphold the complaint but asked the Institute of Fundraising to consider including advice on vulnerable donors in the code.

The guidance states that vulnerable circumstances could include physical or mental health conditions, having English as a second language or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It states that fundraisers should watch out for signs that the prospective donor appears confused, such as asking irrelevant questions, displaying signs of forgetfulness and saying "yes" or "no" at times when it is clear that they have not understood.

It also states that telephone fundraisers should politely end calls with individuals who they believe to be unable to make an informed decision, and if the person is found to lack capacity, the charity should put in place measures to ensure that donations would not be solicited from them in the future.

After the Fundraising Standards Board rejected the complaint about the PDSA in April it asked the Institute of Fundraising to review its codes of practice to provide fundraisers with better guidance on identifying vulnerable adults and encourage a consistent approach toward this demographic across all fundraising methods.