The Institute of Fundraising review guidance on acceptance and refusal of donations

The Institute of Fundraising review guidance on acceptance and refusal of donations

3 May 2018

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF), the professional membership body for UK fundraisers, has today released updated guidance on acceptance and refusal of donations. The guidance will help trustees and fundraisers to make clear and consistent decisions regarding accepting or refusing donations.

The Presidents Club scandal in January 2018 served as a timely reminder that charities need to carefully consider the donations they accept, and the necessary process to follow if charities want to return a donation. Donation acceptance is fundamentally important to a charity’s reputation and the trust the public have in them, and it is important to ensure that a conflict does not arise from accepting a donation with a charity’s ethics, values and vision. To help charities make the right decisions for their organisation, the IoF have built upon their existing guidance on acceptance and refusal to give charities further support as they prepare a consistent and considered strategy for potential risks in the future.

The guidance is aimed at anyone in charities who is involved in raising funds and making decisions on gift acceptance, and specifically covering the role and responsibility of trustees. It also sets out guidance on how to put together a policy on gift acceptance and refusal and examples of where charities might have to make difficult decisions.

Acceptance, refusal, and return: A practical guide to dealing with donations’ is available for free and can be accessed on the IoF website:

Stephanie Siddall, Policy Manager, Institute of Fundraising, said

“Fundraisers understand the important of making sure there is enough money and resource for their charity to be able to carry out its work. But, sometimes there are other considerations that can be more important – the value of donation may not always be worth the cost in terms of a potential loss of public trust and confidence, reputational damage or a conflict with the charity’s ethics, values and vision. These aren’t easy decisions, which is why this guidance is an important tool in supporting charities, fundraisers and trustees to know how to deal with these situations.”

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy, Planning and Communications, Charity Commission for England and Wales, said

 “We welcome this guidance from the Institute of Fundraising. It is, rightly, difficult for a charity to decide to refuse or return a donation – it will need all the money it can get and trustees are under a duty to use all the charity’s resources to further its aims for the public benefit. But there are some rare situations when trustees can properly decide that refusing or returning a donation is going to be in the charity’s best interests. We hope that this guidance will help charities understand those situations, and the rules and processes around them.”


For further information please contact or on 020 7840 5493.

Notes to editors:

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) is the professional membership body for UK fundraising. We support fundraisers through leadership and representation; best practice and compliance; education and networking; and we champion and promote fundraising as a career choice. We have over 6,000 individual members and over 575 organisational members who raise more than £9 billion in income for good causes every year.