Debate: Should charities refuse to refund deposits to fundraisers who cancel?

The Fundraising Standards Board recently ruled that Childreach International did not breach its event guidelines

A challenge event
A challenge event


Ken Burnett, fundraising consultant, Clayton BurnettGiving is voluntary. If a donor changes his or her mind, it's in the charity's interest to be understanding and supportive. Unless the charity has incurred significant costs in the process, it will most probably benefit in the long run if it offers to do the right thing by the donor. In these situations, most donors won't take the money back: the few that do will, one hopes, feel indebted.

If the charity insists on keeping the money, that's a lost donor. Keeping a donor is worth more than a single gift, particularly one that's begrudged.

Ken Burnett, fundraising consultant, Clayton Burnett


Helen Lerwill, head of corporate, community and events, the National Deaf Children's Society

Challenge events are a great way to raise funds.

They are also a big commitment - not only for fundraisers, but for charities too. On our bespoke challenges, a non-refundable deposit helps us to cover our administration costs and secure the fundraiser's place. We understand when a fundraiser cannot take part in an event, and in these cases we offer a transfer to a reasonable alternative of their choice.

When this isn't possible, we try to ensure that the fundraiser fully understands why the deposit cannot be refunded.


Pete Meacham, compliance manager, Fundraising Standards Board.If the terms and conditions clearly state that deposits are non-refundable, charities are within their rights to retain the money. But it is important to consider the potential fallout in terms of your relationship with that supporter, and how this decision might affect the charity's public image. There are times when charities need to take a more empathetic view than businesses might. For example, if a cancellation is made soon after booking, or because of a personal crisis, it might be appropriate to offer a part refund or another goodwill gesture.

Pete Meacham, compliance manager, Fundraising Standards Board.

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