Beware of Fake Websites and Scams for Ukraine’s Donations

Thousands of people are donating to charity to help the suffering that has been inflicted on the citizens of Ukraine. Still, there are ways to ensure that donations are maximised and reach the right people, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

Stefanie Tremain, a director at the firm, said: ‘Many people are watching the events in Ukraine with increasing concern and sadness, and many of us want to help in whatever way we can. For most, this will mean donating items such as clothes and blankets or making cash donations, and there are a couple of ways to make sure your donation is maximised and reaches the right people.’

‘Anyone who pays tax in the UK should tick the box to make sure their donation is made under the Gift Aid scheme. If a donation is made under Gift Aid, the government will top up the value of your donation by 20%.

So, if you donate £10, the charity will receive £12.50 at no further cost to you. Gift Aid works because the donor will pay at least enough UK tax (either income tax or capital gains tax) to “frank” the top-up amount. You should not tick the Gift Aid box if you do not pay enough tax. If you do claim Gift Aid and then do not pay enough tax in the tax year, you will need to pay the “top-up” back to HMRC.’

She added: Gift Aid is only available for UK or EU charities that meet the UK definition of a charity.  If you consider donating to a Ukrainian charity, consider whether there is a UK/EU registered charity that will benefit the same cause but will maximise your donation. If you have recently made donations and did not claim Gift Aid but think you should have, you can contact the charity and ask to make a retrospective claim.

‘Sadly, unscrupulous people take advantage of people’s desire to help can and set up fake websites and scams in times of need. Scams can be extremely convincing in times of need and could be a text or email asking for a donation, including a link that takes you to a website impersonating a genuine charity. While genuine fundraisers use platforms such as GoFundMe, including the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal, there may also be fake pages that you could contribute money to in error.’

‘It is important to check you are donating to genuine charities such as (among others) UNICEF, Save the Children, the Red Cross and Action Aid. By making sure you find a legitimate website rather than reacting to an unsolicited text or email, you can ensure your money goes to the right people who need it.  Giving platforms will also have guidance on their websites on determining that a fundraiser is genuine so if you are unsure, have a quick read before pressing the donate button.’

Stefanie concluded: ‘Many employers and pension providers run Payroll Giving schemes, which means you can make donations straight from your gross salary or pension. Donations made under Payroll Giving do not qualify for Gift Aid, but they ensure that donations will be made to genuine registered charities.’