Graham Senior-Milne

Dear Charity Commission for England and Wales,

Can a charity refuse a donation on political grounds (e.g. because they disapprove of the political view of the donor)?

Does it not amount to acting politically if a charity refuses a donation on political grounds and aren't charities banned from acting politically?

What is the relevant law?

Would you agree that refusing a donation on political grounds effectively amounts to a political statement since it reveals and publicizes a political stance which the charity has. Saying we disapprove of x amounts to saying we approve of things that are not x.

Yours faithfully,

Graham Senior-Milne

Kenneth Dibble, Charity Commission for England and Wales

Dear Mr Senior-Milne

I am in receipt of your email dated 14th June, which I have referred to our FOI team.

You should hear from them within 20 days.

Yours sincerely

Kenneth Dibble

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Becky Bbear left an annotation ()

Graeme - Charities are able to decline donations in circumstances where their trustees believe that accepting them may pose a reputational risk to the charity.

An example of this would be where a donation was offered by an individual or group associated with The English Defense League or BNP - where trustees felt that accepting that donation could be taken as an indication the charity held similar views, or would be seen as associated with such views by the public.

This would be a discretionary act on the part of the trustees, well within their powers and requiring only that they were satisfied doing so represented the best interests of the charity concerned.

Trustees are not required to 'justify' their decisions, only to satisfy themselves that these are in the charity's best interests.

Another example would be where trustees considered that there were 'moral' reasons to refuse a particular donation - either because they believed the donor was unable to actually afford it due to unexpectedly changed circumstances, or where the donation was conditional on actions contrary to the charity's internal ethical policies or purposes.

In all matters relating to the administration of a charity trustees have total discretion - simple as that.


Business Assurance Casework, Charity Commission for England and Wales

Dear Mr Senior-Milne,

Thank you for your email of 14 June 2013.  Your request does not appear to
fall within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  However, I
hope the more general background information I provide below will be

It may be useful if I explain the role of the Charity Commission.  It
registers and regulates charities in England and Wales.  We offer them
advice and provide a wide range of services and guidance to help them run
effectively as possible.  We also keep the online Register of Charities
which provides information about each of the thousands of registered
charities in England and Wales.  You can find more information on our
website at [1]

As far as charities and political activities are concerned, I would refer
you to our publication CC9 "Speaking Out: Guidance on campaigning and
political activity by charities"
This explains that a charity can carry out political activities (as
defined in the guidance) but only in the context of supporting the
delivery of its charitable purposes.  A charity cannot exist for a
political purpose ie. a purpose directed at furthering the interests of
any political party or securing or opposing a change in the law.

Regarding whether a charity should accept or refuse a particular donation,
the law requires charity trustees to consider the charity's best
interests, taking an overall view.  The law allows practical and ethical
factors to be taken into account as long as these are likely to affect the
specific interests of the charity.  Decisions to refuse donations should
be recorded as this will demonstrate that the charity has identified and
properly considered the risks and is transparent about the decision-making
process.  This is important for being able to show that the charity
trustees have acted responsibly.  Further information can be found in the
Institute of Fundraising's guidance
at [3]

I hope the more general comments I have made above have put matters into
context and explained that the decision to refuse a donation is one for
the charity trustees to take acting in what they consider to be the best
interests of the charity.  If you have concerns about a particular
charity, I would refer you to the following link on our website

I hope that this is of some assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Breakspere

Complaints and Freedom of Information Manager

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