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#BeSmart: Checking for charity registered status: why does it matter?

#BeSmart: Checking for charity registered status: why does it matter?

Making the decision to donate to charity, no matter how large or small your donation, is a commendable action. But with so many needy causes both within the UK and abroad, how do you decide? How do you tell a legitimate charity from one that isn’t? What happens to your money once you have given it? Who runs the charity, and do they run it properly?

All these questions and more are important and ones we should be asking ourselves. Sometimes when we donate to those in need, we do so from a place of emotion and of course also, a place of faith. But feeling empathy for others and wanting to ease their hardships may mean we overlook some of the logical questions we should be asking.

Why should we check?

Discovering who you give your money to is being Islamically responsible. Just as we are told to ‘tie our camel’, the same applies here: take appropriate measures to safeguard the value and potential of your donation so that you can be sure it really does help those in need.

Furthermore, your donation is an amanah (trust). It’s therefore important that it is taken seriously as a transaction and correct procedures are adhered to.  UK Muslims donate more than £300 per person through-out the year and each Ramadan, charity giving increases rapidly with British Muslims giving over £150 million to UK and international causes.

Checking the Charity Commission:

The Charity Commission for England and Wales register and regulate charities to ensure that the public can support charities with confidence. The Charity Commission is a non-ministerial department and holds records on each registered charity in the UK.

Charities based in England and Wales must register with the Commission when they earn a gross annual income of £5000 or more. The Charity Commission can take action if they feel a charity has not complied to the legislation when they should do so.

Registered charities must submit their governance documentation, details of their trustees, financial processes and annual accounts to be held on the public register. This includes details of grants or funds received, level of expenditure, areas of operation and salaries.  

Finding a charity on the register is really easy:

Simply go to Search the charity register – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and enter the name of the charity you are seeking or used the advanced search function.

Once you have found the record you are looking for, you can view range of information to give you a good picture of the organisation you are donating to.

If you can’t find the charity you are looking for by name, go back to them and ask for their Charity Registration Number. Every registered charity should have one and include it on their website and marketing materials. If they can’t provide you with this, it may mean they are not registered

Protection for you:

Checking a charity is registered ensures that your donation is protected. Registered charities must adhere to strict legislation on how they handle fundraising and donations, including the type of bank account this must be paid into and preventing money laundering or fraud. A registered charity is subject to checks and misuse of funds can be investigated by the Charity Commission who can issue penalties.

Donating to a charity which is registered is therefore protection for you against scams, fraud or against your money being used in a way that is not your donation intention.

Protection for those in need:

A registered charity will need to declare all expenditure and salaries and show clearly how funds were obtained. Donating to a registered charity ensures that the funds you give go to the cause you intended. This ensures your donation is protected for the beneficiaries and that they receive the aid you have supported for them.

Regulating and capacity-building the sector:

There are over 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales generating income over £48 billion. A proportion of those are Muslim-led charities or serving Muslim communities – but the Muslim-led charity sector is ever-growing.

By only selecting registered charities for your donations, your actions will encourage others within the charity field to ensure that they register and abide by charity regulation.

Check the register now: Search the charity register – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


This Ramadan, be a Smart Donor this Ramadan and consider your donation habits. Learning about the questions you should ask before you donate and why will help you ensure your donations are used effectively. Visit our ‘What type of donor are you? #BeSmart campaign’ to do the quiz, view our short video series and download the Give Smart Give Safe guide.

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