Fundraising for charities abroad

While you can fundraise for charities that are not registered in the UK, there are some restrictions. You must avoid using words like ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ to describe the fund. Instead, you need to give the name of the organisation that you are fundraising for and explain what it does.

In some cases, organisations based abroad may have offices in the UK or there may be British charities that could act as a strategic partner, which would give you more flexibility for your fundraising and help handle donations.

Search for a potential UK partner charity via the Charity Commission, Scottish Charity Regulator or Charity Commission Northern Ireland.

There are many ways to fundraise. Explore the best route for your objectives, depending on the timescale, expertise and resource available. Don’t forget to consider applying for grant funding too.

However you go about it, there are some issues that are particularly important to consider when fundraising for an overseas charity.

These include:

Being open and honest

As with all fundraising, it is vital that you are open and honest about everything you do and donors are aware of where their money is going, so that they can make informed choices. If your appeal is for a specific project and you end up raising too much money, you would need to get permission from your donors to spend the money in another way. So, from the start, make sure you decide whether to state that funds are being raised for the general purposes of the cause or to restrict it to a specific project. Further guidance is available from our transparency and accountability guidance.

 

Understanding the tax incentives

It is important to remember that tax reliefs on charitable giving (benefitting charities and donors alike) are only applicable on gifts to organisations registered within the UK.

 

Transferring funds securely

Care needs to be taken when transferring money abroad. You will want to be able to reassure supporters and all stakeholders that the money will end up exactly where it is intended. We recommend you look at the Charity Commission’s guidance for charities working internationally.

For advice on transferring funds abroad, visit the Charities Aid Foundation.

If you are setting up your own fund or charity, you will need a separate bank account in the name of your fund and to seek advice from the Charity Commission.