Simple steps to donate safely to charity

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A BBC investigation has revealed that a veterans' charity has been selling Nazi-themed and anti-Islamic merchandise - and misleading donors about commission paid to fundraisers. So how can you donate safely to charity?

Harvey Grenville, head of the Charity Commission's investigations team says:

"The documentary highlights some practices that many will find uncomfortable at best and at worst shocking.

"Unfortunately there are some who, deliberately or through lack of care and skill, will bring the good name of charity into disrepute. The actions of the few can affect the many.

"In the BBC programme, military charities are in the spotlight.

"There are thousands of military charities in this country who do hugely important and vital work for tens of thousands of current and ex-servicemen and women. Military charities are a cause that is close to the heart of the British public. And rightly so.

"However, it is for this reason that unscrupulous individuals see this as an opportunity to use this generosity and goodwill for their own benefit.

"The regulator, the Charity Commission, and it's Scottish equivalent - the OSCR - are determined to identify and tackle abuse, so that the vast majority can carry on with their good work.

"We have been engaged with some of the charities named in the documentary already and will continue to investigate the worrying allegations that have been raised.

How to donate safely

  • Check the charity's name and registration number. You can verify this on the register of charities.
  • When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed and not damaged.
  • If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  • Ask whether the fundraiser is working for the charity directly or a third party. If it is a third party, how much is the charity receiving?
  • Never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately.

"It is also why our monitoring team conducting a proactive piece of work planned to look more closely at a number of military charities in the coming months. The public can have confidence that we have acted, and will continue to act, robustly.

"This all sounds rather doom and gloom. But it shouldn't be.

"The important question for the public is how do you ensure that the money you give to so generously goes to the right hands, rather than the wrong ones? It is quite simple for us. And it's about transparency to the donors.

"What we don't want this documentary to do is put you off giving to charities of any kind, particularly military charities at this important time of year.

"Whether it is £10, £100 or £1,000, you want to be assured that your money is going to the right hands. It is about openness and transparency. The message to charities is that the public, and your regulator, expects no less."

The Great Military Charity Scandal will be broadcast at 19:00 on Tuesday 8 November on BBC One Scotland, and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer