Donations policy

Thank you to everyone who considers donating to Genetic Alliance UK to fund the vital work we do to improve the lives of people in the UK living with genetic and rare conditions. Without your support, we simply would not be able to do the work that we do.

Trustees are under a legal duty to consider which course of action will be in Genetic Alliance UK’s best interests, including accepting or refusing donations. Donations to the charity can only be refused, returned or refunded in exceptional circumstances which are set out in this policy.


Refusing a donation

Trustees have a responsibility to act in the best interests of Genetic Alliance UK. This means that trustees must only refuse a donation if to accept it would be more detrimental to the charity being able to achieve its objectives than rejecting it. Making this decision involves a careful analysis of the risks of accepting a donation, balanced against the benefit that will be obtained. These matters are decided on a case by case basis.

Donations to Genetic Alliance UK are only rejected in exceptional circumstances, if:

  • It would be unlawful to accept it (that is, if the charity knows that the gift comprises the proceeds of crime); or
  • Accepting the donation would be detrimental to the achievement of the purposes of the charity, as set out in its Articles. This anticipated detriment must be set against the benefit of having the funds from the donor, which would enable the charity to pursue its purposes.


Returning or refunding a donation

Trustees and staff must think carefully about what is in the best interests of the charity when taking the decision about whether to keep or return a donation that has already been accepted. It is important that trustees and staff are able to clearly demonstrate how and why a particular decision has been made. 

Where specific circumstances may prompt the return of all or part of a donation, great care should be exercised by the trustees. Once Genetic Alliance UK has accepted a donation it can only return it:

  • if the terms and conditions of the gift provide for it to be returned in particular circumstances; or
  • where the law specifically provides for the gift to be returned in particular circumstances; or
  • by way of an ‘ex-gratia payment’ (a payment made as a result of a compelling moral, but not legal, obligation). This type of donation return will only be permitted where the charity has received an order from the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Gift Aid

We encourage UK taxpayers to claim Gift Aid when donating their own money to us by completing the Gift Aid declaration on our donation page. When receiving a donation by sending us a cheque, we will still be able to claim Gift Aid. 

To allow us to claim Gift Aid, each individual making a donation must declare in writing that they are a UK taxpayer and provide his or her name and address including postcode.

Most online fundraising platforms, such as JustGiving, offer easy ways for people to register for Gift Aid.  If you are collecting sponsorship money for a fundraising event without the use of an online platform, ask UK tax payers whether they are willing to register for Gift Aid by clearly writing their name, address and postcode against the amount they contribute on your sponsorship form. Provided you send your sponsorship form to us we will be able to claim Gift Aid on the contributions of eligible sponsorship. 

If you pay in money to us other than money you are donating to us personally (such as from family members, sales, ticket sales and any activity where there is an exchange of goods or services for fundraised money), you cannot claim Gift Aid.

It is your responsibility to ascertain whether you qualify for Gift Aid entitlement. If you have any doubts about your entitlement for Gift Aid we recommend you consult your own advisors or HMRC about any accounting, taxation or financial consequences of making a donation that may affect you. Further information on Gift Aid can be found at

Unauthorised card use

If you become aware of fraudulent use of your card, or if it is lost or stolen, you must notify your card provider.

Vulnerable donors

All fundraisers (both at Genetic Alliance UK and third-party agency partners) should be alert to indicators of potential vulnerabilities in every interaction they have with supporters. We should abide by our values of being people-centred and inclusive, and be open, honest and transparent with all our supporters to ensure they fully understand what their support involves. We will always strive to provide them with the best possible experience in their relationship with Genetic Alliance UK, and recognise that our supporters are key to us carrying out our work.

Our commitment to our supporters and as a member of the Fundraising Regulator, means we will adhere to the Code of Fundraising Practice Requirements (1.2 e):

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.

  1. 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.
  2. If a fundraiser knows or has reasonable grounds for believing that an individual lacks capacity to make a decision to donate, a donation must not be taken.
  3. A donation given by someone who lacked capacity at the time of donating must be returned. This is a legal requirement defined by law.

What is vulnerability?

Genetic Alliance UK recognises that vulnerability is complex and changeable and may, at some stage in life, affect any individual. If an individual lacks the mental capacity to make an informed decision, then they are in a vulnerable situation. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 states that this can be defined as an impairment of the functioning of the brain leaving that person unable to make a decision, for example dementia.

The Fundraising Regulator guidance Treating Donors Fairly states ‘an individual does not have to have any medical, physical, or mental condition to be in a ‘vulnerable circumstance’. Something could have happened in their life that makes things difficult for them, meaning that it is harder for them to make decisions, or they are experiencing particular stress or anxiety. Genetic Alliance UK therefore understands that vulnerability can be a temporary situation defined by significant life events, such as times of extreme stress and/or anxiety.

It is important for all staff and representatives of Genetic Alliance UK to remember that there is a wide range of potential vulnerabilities, which can affect different people in different ways. It is important to consider each supporter’s circumstance individually and refrain from making judgements.

Genetic Alliance UK also recognises that there are times where an individual may have capacity to make a decision, but circumstances mean they may require extra support in making that decision, for example, if someone has been recently  bereaved or made redundant.

Identifying someone in a potentially vulnerable situation

Examples of situations which could lead Genetic Alliance UK to believe that an individual does not have the mental capacity to make an informed decision, is in a vulnerable circumstance, or needs additional support could include:

  • Physical and mental medical conditions
  • Disability
  • Learning difficulties
  • Times of stress or anxiety (such as bereavement, redundancy)
  • Financial vulnerability (where a gift from a donor may impact on their ability to sufficiently care for themselves or leave them in financial hardship)
  • English not being the donor’s first language
  • Influence of alcohol or drugs.

Due to its nature, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive set of indicators, so these serve as guidance and fundraisers are advised to always remain alert to the potential for vulnerability.

If a fundraiser has grounds to believe a supporter is in a vulnerable situation, or lacks the capacity to make an informed decision, then the interaction with the supporter should be ended in a polite manner protecting their dignity.

When would Genetic Alliance UK not accept a donation from a vulnerable supporter

When Genetic Alliance UK has reasonable grounds to believe that a supporter lacks the mental capacity to make an informed decision about their giving, including temporary circumstances,  we should not accept the donation.

When Genetic Alliance UK has reasonable grounds to believe an individual has the capacity to make a decision, but might need additional support in doing so, Genetic Alliance UK will not accept the donation at that moment. It may be considered appropriate to send the supporter a form and advise them to discuss their donation with friends and family before returning it.

When would Genetic Alliance UK return a donation from a vulnerable supporter

If a donation has been made and it is found that at the time of donating the supporter lacked the capacity to make an informed decision about their giving, the donation is deemed invalid and should be returned.

How to contact us

We’re here to help. If we can be of any assistance, or if you would like more information about this policy, please: email us at [email protected]; write to us at Genetic Alliance UK, c/o Creative Works, 7 Blackhorse Lane, London E17 6DS; or call us on 0300 124 0441.

This policy applies to fundraising for Genetic Alliance UK and for our long-standing campaigns Rare Disease UK and SWAN UK.