Protecting vulnerable people policy

Protecting people who might be in vulnerable circumstances

Supporter Care and fundraising policy

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Giving to charity is a hugely rewarding experience that should be accessible to everybody, whether they are a new supporter or an existing one. Through engaging the public in the work of charities, fundraising gives people the opportunity to support the issues they care about, connecting them with the cause.

The Macular Society is registered with the Fundraising Regulator and we are committed to following the Regulator’s Code of Practice and Fundraising Promise, which set the standards for what behaviours are expected from fundraisers in our interactions with the public and our supporters.

Our Vulnerable Persons policy is also informed by the Institute of Fundraising’s “Treating Donors Fairly: Fundraising with People in Vulnerable Circumstances” and is part of our wider commitment to fundraising that is legal, open, honest and respectful, and to our Fundraising Policy.

Every donor is an individual with a unique background, experience, and circumstance, and every interaction between a fundraiser and donor is different.

During those interactions, we are committed to treating our supporters with respect and being responsive to their needs. We will apply the same principles when dealing with people who might be in vulnerable circumstances. Where we work with carefully selected partners to carry out our fundraising work, we will ensure that they also follow this policy.

This policy sets out how we identify potential vulnerability and how we aim to respond in such circumstances.

The Fundraising Regulator Code of Practice General Principles

i) You must take all reasonable steps to treat a donor fairly, so that they can make an informed decision about any donation.

ii) You must take into account the needs of any possible donor who may be in vulnerable circumstances or need extra care and support to make an informed decision.

iii) You must not exploit the trust, lack of knowledge, apparent need for care and support or vulnerable circumstance of any donor at any time.

iv) You must not take a donation if you know, or have good reason to believe, that a person lacks capacity to make a decision to donate, or is in vulnerable circumstances which mean they may not be able to make an informed decision. Among other things, you should consider:

  • any physical or mental-health condition the person may have;
  • any disability the person may have;
  • any learning difficulties the person may have;
  • whether the person is facing times of stress or anxiety (for example, following the death of a loved one or redundancy);
  • whether a donation is likely to affect the person’s ability to sufficiently care for themselves or leave them in financial hardship;
  • how well the person can communicate and understand what they are being told;
  • whether the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
  • the person’s age.

v) If a donor makes a donation while they do not have the capacity to make an informed decision, you must return the money to them.

Persons who may be vulnerable or require additional support to make a decision

All individuals may, at some stage in their life, be considered vulnerable or require additional care and support, depending on their personal circumstances, health, bereavements, life events and more.

Such persons can still have capacity to choose to donate to a charity. However, it is the context and circumstance that they may be in at the time of making a decision about whether to donate that is relevant.

For example, a recently bereaved person could still have the capacity to make a donation, but might need additional support to help them make their decision. This may change as time progresses.

How will we respond?

At the Macular Society, we are committed to supporting people who may be in vulnerable circumstances in a manner appropriate to their needs, including:

  • delaying acceptance of the gift to give the donor further time to consider their donation
  • including a ‘cooling off’ period to give the donor time to change his or her mind
  • suggesting the donor gets advice from family/friends.

If, based on our interaction with a donor, we have reason to assume that additional support may be required or that they are in a vulnerable circumstance, we will adapt the manner of our communication in response. This may include:

  • being patient and not rushing the conversation so as to not leave the person agitated or confused
  • offering to contact the individual in a different way so that they have additional time to make a decision, if indeed they have the capacity to do so
  • checking the person’s understanding, for example by asking them to repeat back information to us
  • asking the person if they need to speak with anyone else before making a decision.

All of the above ensure that the person’s needs come first and that he or she has the time to make a decision if they have the capacity to do so.

Persons who may lack capacity to make a decision

In order to ensure that no one is excluded from the opportunity to support a cause they are interested in, we will communicate with all our supporters with the assumption that they have the capacity to make decisions as to their finances and level of charitable giving. We will, however, consider indicators like the examples below that they may be in a vulnerable situation or lack that capacity.

Individuals may:

  • ask irrelevant and unrelated questions, or displaying signs of forgetfulness
  • be unable to read and understand the information they are provided with, and asking for it to be continually repeated
  • respond in an irrational way to simple questions
  • say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at times that it is clear they haven’t understood
  • take a long time or display difficulty in responding to simple questions or requests for information
  • repeat simple questions such as ‘who are you’, ‘what charity is it’ and ‘what do you want’
  • wander off the subject at hand and making incongruous statements
  • say that they are not well or not in the mood to continue
  • display signs of ill-health like breathlessness or make signs of exasperation or discontent
  • give a statement such as ‘I don’t usually do things like this, my husband/wife/son/daughter takes care of it for me’
  • indicate in any way that they are feeling rushed, flustered, or experiencing a stressful situation
  • have trouble remembering relevant information, for example that they are already a regular donor or have recently donated.

How will we respond?

If we reasonably believe that an individual is unable to make a decision then we will not accept a donation from that person. If the donation has already been made, and at the time of donating the individual lacked capacity (and we receive evidence of this) we will return that donation.

Where we have reason to believe an individual is in a vulnerable situation and lacks capacity to make decisions around their financial giving, we will immediately ensure this individual no longer receives fundraising communications from the Macular Society, including appeal letters and emails.

If we are contacted on behalf of an individual who needs additional care and support or who is in a vulnerable situation

Macular Society allows supporters or those acting on their behalf to declare vulnerability.

If there is any concern about the communications that such a person is receiving we will act upon this and follow the wishes of the person who contacts us in regards to future contact from the Macular Society. We will update our database to reflect these wishes.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about this policy please contact our Supporter Care team by emailing or calling 01264 350 551.

Approved by: Company Secretary (Cathy Yelf)
Date: February 2024
Review: February 2026