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Raise And Give and Kent Union Charity Fund Raising

There was a degree of controversy last year in the way that the Kent SU required all charitable fund-raising activities to be organised through Raise And Give (RAG), the union society that is specifically focused on raising money for charity.

The main problem was that it took a long time for the money to be donated in at least one case from RAG to the relevant charity. On top of that when it finally arrived the money was misattributed to RAG rather than to the society that had actually raised the money.

I was looking into the advice for Fund Raising on the Kent Union website (here) and it contains advice that:

“RaG facilitates fundraising on campus because of Kent Union’s charity status. As a charity, Kent Union cannot give to a charity and because societies and sports teams are part of the Union this applies to them too. Kent RaG act as a middleman.”

I thought this seemed a little weird so I sought advice from the horse’s mouth; the UK Charity Commission. In their advice to Student Unions (found here ) they state in full:

Donations to other charities and organisations
22. The fact that a students’ union is a charity does not mean, of itself, that donations can be made to other charities. Furthermore, neither a students’ union nor any club or society can make donations to any external organisation or cause, particularly if it is political in nature – unless the organisation or cause has a connection with the welfare of students at the particular university or college. None of this prevents a students’ union fund raising where those funds are passed directly to the intended recipients. So, for example, there is nothing to prevent a students’ union holding a rag week to collect money for various named charities or other causes and passing the money collected from students or the general public directly to the organisation concerned.

Clearly the key point here is that the Union as a charity cannot donate money raised for itself to other Charities. That makes sense; people who donate to a charity in good faith do not expect to have that money given to other charities or used for any purpose other than the main purpose of the given charity as per their Memoranda of Association.

Equally as clearly unions can raise money in the name of another charity to pass the funds directly to the intended recipient.

What this means is that the advice above to Kent societies is factually incorrect. There is no requirement for a ‘middle man’ and frankly how RAG could act as a ‘middle man’ when they are a Union society themselves is a little difficult to comprehend.

Now, it might well be that Kent Union (and others?) have a policy of using Raise and Give to donate money to other charities but that is very different from a matter of legal compliance. The Union needs to stop hiding behind the excuse of ‘it’s the law’ or ‘it’s about insurance’ when in fact there are other reasons for policies such as this.

In this case I can see a case for using RAG on the basis that having a single society to deal with all charitable donations makes it easier for the Union to use due diligence in ensuring the safe collection and passing on of money to other charities in accordance with their obligations as set out in Charity Commission guide CC20 – Charities And Fund-Raising, which states:

“Where members of the public or volunteers are fundraising on behalf of the charity or where the charity employs a professional fundraiser, trustees should ensure that they have proper and appropriate control of funds. This includes ensuring that funds are only spent for the purpose for which they were raised.”

I believe that RAG is used because having a single society administering the charitable collecting etc. is simpler for the Union and makes it easier for them to comply with this guidance.

Also relevant is the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Practice which has good advice for best practice when raising funds. I note that if RAG does exist to assist the Union in complying with all relevant law and guidelines then it is paying lip-service at best.

From our own experience we know that RAG’s involvement ends at the handing out of buckets and begins again when the money is handed in for counting.

Wouldn’t it be better to publicise the above code of practice to all societies and ask that the terms are complied with when money is being raised at events rather than foisting the matter off on RAG? I note that the same rules apply when societies are fund-raising for their own events.

Aside from specific issues with RAG my point here is primarily to request that the Union becomes more factually accurate in its guidance to societies and, if it wishes to use compliance with law or with insurance requirements as an argument for things that can or cannot be done, then it should clearly specify what law or what insurance requirements.

Weasel words aren’t accepted on Wikipedia and they shouldn’t be accepted here, either.

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Categories: Rant
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