Chapter 2 Tool 6 Know your donor: key questions
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These questions are not intended to be asked in respect of each donor. However, trustees may need to consider them depending on the risk, including the size and nature of the donation, and whether it appears to have any suspicious characteristics.
- Who are the donors?
- What is known about them?
- Does the charity have a well established relationship with them?
- Do any additional identity checks need to be made? Full use should be made of internet websites, particularly to check whether a donor organisation is registered with another regulator. Registration may provide access to the organisation’s accounts and governing document
- Are the donors UK taxpayers, and can gift aid be claimed?
- If gift aided, does the donation fail all the three tests, in which case it is a tainted charity donation? The tests establish whether the person or linked person or entity gains a financial advantage from the donation; whether one of the main or sole purposes is to obtain a financial advantage directly or indirectly from the charity for the donor or linked person; and the donor is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the charity or a 'relevant housing provider'.
- In what form is the money being received? Cash, cheque, bank transfer?
- Have any public concerns been raised about the donors or their activities? If so, what was the nature of the concerns and how long ago were they raised? Did the police or a regulator investigate the concerns? What was the outcome?
- Would any adverse publicity about the donor have a damaging effect on the charity?
The nature of the donation and any conditions
- How big is the donation?
- Is it a single donation, or one of a number of regular donations, or the first of multiple future donations?
- Is the donation one of a series of interest-free loans from sources that cannot be identified or checked by the charity?
- Are there unusual or substantial one-off donations?
- Does the donation come with any conditions attached? What are they? Are they reasonable?
- Is there a condition that funds are only to be retained by the charity for a period and then returned to the donor, with the charity retaining the interest?
- Is the donation conditional on particular organisations or individuals being used to apply the funds?
- Is the donation conditional on being applied to benefit particular individuals either directly or indirectly?
- Is there a suggestion that the charity is being used as a conduit for funds to a third party?
- Is the donation in sterling or another currency, perhaps with a requirement that the donation be returned in a different currency?
- Are any of the donors based, or does the money originate, outside the UK? If so, from which country? Does this country/ area pose any specific risks?
- Are donations received from unknown bodies or international sources where financial regulation or the legal framework is not rigorous?
- Is the donation received from a known donor but through an unknown party or an unusual payment mechanism where this would not be a typical method of payment?
- Is anything else unusual or strange about the donation?
What trustees should do if they are suspicious
- If due diligence checks reveal evidence of crime, trustees must report the matter to the police and/or other appropriate authorities
- If the trustees have reasonable cause to suspect that a donation is related to terrorist financing, they are under specific legal duties under the Counter-Terrorism Act to report the matter to the police. In the case of money laundering, reports can be made to the police, a customs officer (HMRC), or an officer of the Serious Organised Crime Agency
- Such issues should be reported to the Commission under the reporting serious incidents regime, especially if significant sums of money or other property are donated to the charity from an unknown or unverified source. This could include an unusually large one-off donation or a series of smaller donations from a source you cannot identify or check. We would expect trustees to report any such payment (or payments) totalling £25,000 or more.
- Check the donor against the consolidated lists of financial sanctions targets and proscribed organisations
- Consider whether to refuse the donation