It's generally best to donate or volunteer for charities that you both already know and trust, or those you have researched and in which you have confidence. You might like to start your research by looking at the Charities Register.
Most local charities have an established relationship with their community, and understand what is needed, and how they can best assist.
There are also many larger, well-established and well-known charities operating at a national (or international) level, who are accustomed to dealing with crisis recoveries and their longer-term effects, and are equipped to deal with them. Well established aid agencies often have better networks, infrastructure, expertise and systems in place to respond quickly to disasters.
Can I claim a tax credit for my donation?
Yes, if you make a donation to a charity or other organisation that has donee status. Donee status is administered by Inland Revenue. Most charities registered with Charities Services are eligible for donee status.
If your employer offers payroll giving, and you make donations to a donee organisation directly from your pay, you will receive an immediate tax credit on the amount of your donation.
You can view organisations with donee status on Inland Revenue's website (external link) .
How can we check to see that a charity is registered with Charities Services?
You can ask collectors for the charity's registration number, and either check the number on the Register or call 0508 CHARITIES (our staff can check the Register for you. The Call Centre is open 8.30am - 5pm workdays). If the organisation is not registered it may not really be a charity, even though it may be supporting a good cause. Or, the supposed "charity" may be bogus.
Remember to ask how your donation will be used - Charities Services has powers of investigation where misconduct and wrongful use of charity money is suspected.
What can we do if a collector approaches us to make a donation?
Don't be shy about asking to see identification, or asking them to call back after you have had an opportunity to phone the charity.
Phone/telemarketing appeals, on-street collectors, and spam emails
Many phone callers or on-street collectors asking for donations represent profit-making agencies who keep part of your donation for themselves or charge fees for their fundraising services. Find out if the person works for a telemarketing or fundraising company, or whether they are a volunteer or employee of the charity itself. You may prefer to donate directly to the charity.
Phone collectors and spam emails may ask for your credit card number or bank account details. If you do prefer to make a donation over the phone, make sure the charity is well known. Look up the charity's number, and call them back yourself, especially if they contacted you by phone or email. Don't reply or click on links sent to you in spam email. Some of these emails may contain a virus.