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Fundraising communications and vulnerable supporters

To make sure that we take all reasonable care to protect vulnerable adults, RNID complies with the Institute of Fundraising guidance set out in the document called “Treating Donors Fairly: Responding To The Needs Of People In Vulnerable Circumstances And Helping Donors Make Informed Decisions”.  

We require our staff and any agencies contacting members of the public on our behalf to comply with guidelines provided by the Direct Marketing Association and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association. These guidelines do not cover children and young people under the age of 18; we do not actively seek donations from them. 

RNID relies on donations from individuals and grants from organisations to fund our work. Without our donors we could not carry out our vital work.  We aim to communicate with supporters in the ways in which they are most comfortable, this includes by direct mail, email, SMS, phone and in person. 

Every donor has a unique background, experiences and circumstances – and every interaction between a fundraiser and donor is different. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to support our work by making a donation if they are willing and able to do so, and that denying people the chance to give based on appearance, age or behaviour may be considered discriminatory. 

RNID does not identify vulnerable adults based on broad personal characteristics such as disability or age. 

Through our work it is inevitable that we will come into contact with people who are vulnerable and not able to make informed decisions about their giving. This can happen either through our own communications or through communications from the agencies who work on our behalf. Because of this we take all reasonable care to identify supporters who may be vulnerable, and to decide what action we take if we suspect a person is vulnerable. 

Complying with regulation and best practice

The Institute of Fundraising General Principles state that fundraisers must take all reasonable steps to treat a donor fairly, enabling them to make an informed decision about any donation. This must include taking into account the needs of any potential donor who may be in a vulnerable circumstance or require additional care and support to make an informed decision. 

Fundraisers must not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge, apparent need for care and support or vulnerable circumstance of any donor at any point in time. 

RNID’s fundraising activity abides by the four key principles of the Institute of Fundraising’s Treating Donors Fairly policy, which are: 

  • Respect – treating all members of the public respectfully. This means being mindful of, and sensitive to, any particular need that a donor may have. It also means striving to respect the wishes and preferences of the donor, whatever they may be. 
  • Fairness – all donors should be treated fairly. This includes not discriminating against any group or individual based on their appearance or any personal characteristic. 
  • Responsive – this means responding appropriately to the different needs that a donor may have. The onus should be on the fundraiser to adapt his or her approach (tone, language, communication technique) to suit the needs and requirements of the donor. 
  • Accountable – it is up to fundraisers and charities to take responsibility and care to ensure that their fundraising is happening to a high standard. When thinking about ways of communicating with different people and fundraising appropriately, different charities should consider what processes and procedures they may need in place. Charities may want to develop their own internal guidance on this area and consider how to ensure that their fundraisers are appropriately trained and supported. 

Family members and carers 

We may be alerted to a supporter being vulnerable by a family member or carer. Where we have been given this information we will act upon this by asking the supporter what kind of communication, if any, is acceptable. 

What we do if we suspect a supporter is vulnerable

We follow the Institute of Fundraising guidance which states that “a donation should not be taken. If after the donation is taken the charity receives evidence that the person lacked capacity to make the decision to donate, then the charity can and should return the donation because the original donation was invalid… If a donor is found to lack capacity, the organisation should put in place measures to ensure that donations are not solicited from them in the future.”

Page last updated: 21 September 2022

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