Accountability and Transparency



Understanding how charities work

Honesty in fundraising




Charities must be honest and truthful, and comply with the law in all they do. Being accountable and transparent in fundraising is essential to maintaining public trust in the sector, and should be embedded in everything that charity does.

Accountability is about being responsible for, and able to explain, clarify and justify actions and decisions. Charities have a duty to be accountable as their purposes must be for the benefit of the public.  

Transparency is about being easy to understand, and being open and honest in all communications, transactions and operations.


Understanding how charities work

A key part of accountability and transparency is being able to explain how both your specific charity and the sector as a whole operates.

That means proactively and reactively providing information about how your organisation works.

It’s important that charities are able to demonstrate to donors what they plan to do with money raised, and how it will enable the charity’s mission and objective to be fulfilled.

There are some specific requirements that aim to ensure fundraising is carried out in a transparent way. These include, but are not limited to:

Including information about charity registration on all materials that contain a donation request (money or otherwise)

Professional fundraisers making declarations about their remuneration when soliciting funds

Fulfilling the expected reporting requirements for the relevant regulator – charities must prepare an annual report and accounts, and must submit these to the Charity Commission and/or OSCR

Being upfront with your donors about fundraising costs if requested, and considering ways of showing impact or demonstrating outcomes. If you start your fundraising costs on information, then you should also explain how these fundraising costs are calculated or indicate where these calculations can be obtained

Taking opportunities to explain that fundraising is an investment – not a cost – which requires resources upfront

Visit the How Charities Work website


Honesty in fundraising

There are many principles to bear in mind when fundraising, but by far the most important is that of honesty. No matter who you are or what you are fundraising for, you need to be as upfront and honest with donors as possible. The more transparent the sector is with the public, the more trust and confidence the public will have in the sector.

Remember that money has to be used as intended by donors. If you raise money for a specific purpose, you have to use the money for this purpose. It is often helpful to include a secondary purpose when asking for money to allow more flexibility in spending the money. For example, if you are raising money to buy a certain piece of equipment you could say that any money which cannot be spent on that piece of equipment will be donated to charity x. This can be particularly useful if you raise too much or too little money, or if circumstances change.