Foreign Aid Charities – A Regulatory Alert from the Charity Commission

The Charity Commission, the regulator of charities in England and Wales, has issued a regulatory alert to charities involved in foreign aid.

We are all familiar with what foreign aid charities are and do in the light of recent humanitarian and natural disasters.  Although the beneficiaries of these charities are found in other countries, their establishment in England and Wales means that they are still regulated by the Charity Commission.  The regulatory alert which has been issued by the Charity Commission is aimed primarily at those people who are running foreign aid charities, making it clear to them that they need to be sure that they:

  • Take proper steps to ensure that the aid that they are providing is only used for lawful humanitarian purposes;
  • Are able to take account for its proper use; and
  • Take reasonable steps to guard against abuse, including vetting any volunteers travelling with them to the foreign states.

This alert comes in the light of the Syrian crisis as the Charity Commission has become aware that some charitable aid convoys in Syria are being abused for non-charitable purposes, including helping British foreign fighters to travel.

Foreign Aid Charities must always be aware of what their governing documents permit them to do and their trustees must ensure that they are acting in accordance with the charitable objects of that charity to avoid getting into hot water with the Charity Commission.

For advice and assistance on forming or running charities (including foreign aid charities), or advice on how your charity may operate under its current constitution, contact the Forbes Solicitors Business Law Team or call 01254 222399.

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