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How to Complain about a Charity

There is a set procedure to complain about a charity or to report them for misconduct. You can file a complaint to the regulator if the charity fails to deal with the situation 'appropriately'.

This guide clarifies the most common complaints about charities and who to contact. Further information explains how to report the most serious incidents to the relevant regulators or the police.

As a rule, making a direct complaint to the charity itself is the best policy.

But, you should contact the police if you suspect any charity is conducting illegal activities (e.g. abuse or terrorism).

Call 101 the police non emergency number for anything illegal.

In most cases, all registered charities will try to help anyone complaining about their behaviour, conduct, or ethics.

Even so, you can (and should) contact the most relevant regulator if you are not satisfied with the way a charity deals with your complaint.

Complaints about Charity Advertising

Members of the public can contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to complain about a charity. Some activities carried out by charities that create grounds for complaints include:

  • Advertising campaigns that are deceptive, inaccurate, or cause offense.
  • An unreasonably high volume of emails or mailshot materials sent by a charity.

Note: The Fundraising Preference Service helps you stop charities contacting you. The service lets you control how often you get emails, phone calls, post, or text messages from charitable organisations.

Complaints about Fundraising Events

It is best to contact the ‘Fundraising Regulator’ to file a complaint about an organisation’s fundraising activities, such as:

  • The behaviour or conduct of the fundraisers.
  • The way they asked you to make donations (fundraising methods).

Note: You can also make a complaint about a charity, or raise your concerns, to the Fundraising Regulator on behalf of someone else. Read more about whistleblowing for employees in a different section.

Making Other Serious Complaints

The Charity Commission regulates registered charities operating in England and Wales. Their role helps to ensure charities are accountable, meet their legal obligations, and are run appropriately.

So, for example you can raise any serious concerns with the Charity Commission if you believe that a charitable organisation is:

  • Being used for personal gain or profit
  • Causing harming to members of the public
  • Failing to do what it is claiming to do
  • Involved in any illegal activities
  • Losing large amounts of money (funds)

Note: The process for reporting serious concerns about charities outside England and Wales differs. Contact the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in Scotland and the Charity Commission in Northern Ireland.

Guide for Auditors and Trustees

The Charity Commission requires you to report a serious incident in your charity. It is important to make prompt, frank, and complete disclosures to the Commission if serious incidents happen.

Besides reporting what happened, you must notify the Commission how you are dealing with the issue. It would apply even if you also reported the incident to the police, to the donors, or to another regulator.

Information for Charity Employees and Volunteers

The Charity Commission provides advice and guidance on what sort of wrongdoing you can report to them as a worker or as a volunteer.

Note: The process for trustees, employees, and for volunteers of charities differs in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

Filing a Complaint about a Charity in United Kingdom