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Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive 

Most people will have been repulsed at the events that took place last week at the President’s Club. Let’s be clear, this is nothing to do with charity and all about men behaving badly. But this episode has given some charities an ethical dilemma about what to do with the money.  Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and others have been criticised in the Daily Mail and other media outlets for returning the donations.

Having spoken to a few charity leaders, there are clearly different perspectives on this and each organisation needs to decide its approach, based on its ethics and values.

Some people believe that as the money has been raised for charities they should take it. Our fundraisers and volunteers work so hard to raise funding, so how does it appear if we refuse it? Does it make their efforts seem in vain or that charities don’t need their donations?  What happens to donations paid back? Can the donations be paid back?

A different perspective is that this could call into question the organisation’s own principles and alienate its supporters. It could act as encouragement for others to put on events like this if they believe charities will accept the donations regardless

We don’t always know where our funding comes from – the advent of funding platforms and giving digitally means we don’t necessarily know the names of our donors.

The Charity Commission has issued a sensible statement that “it is up to a charity’s trustees to make the difficult decision as to whether they should refuse a donation. They must make this decision on the basis of the best interests of the charity. That will include weighing up any issues around how the funds were raised, which may include reputational concerns, against the financial impact on the charity of turning the donation down. Different charities may legitimately come to different decisions, and trustees can approach the Commission for advice if they are unsure about their approach.”

So the message is that it is sensible for all charities to have clear policies on accepting or refusing donations. Charities should think carefully about whether it is worth damaging their reputation by accepting such a donation. It’s important to ensure that donations fulfil the charity’s mission, are not in conflict with its values and do not present a risk to its reputation or independence.

So my personal view is that charities can’t just take money from wherever it comes just because it will help them to pursue their cause. They need to look at the organisation offering the funding and how it is raised and decide if that is consistent with their values and mission.