Donation refusal policy


This policy has been set out by the Trustees of Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET). It is a public guide as to how PET makes decisions on accepting and refusing donations and the procedures it follows.

This policy is aligned with the Code of Fundraising Practice as held by the Fundraising Regulator (with which PET is registered) in the United Kingdom. It also references guidance ‘L7.0 Acceptance and Refusal of Donations’ also held by the Fundraising Regulator. This policy should also be read in conjunction with PET’s ‘Policy for fundraising communications with vulnerable supporters’ and PET’s Fundraising Feedback and Complaints Policy.

This document makes clear the Trustees’ legal obligations with regard to the acceptance and refusal of donations. It outlines the day-to-day procedures that need to be adhered to and ensures that decisions are not taken on an ad-hoc basis, but are in support of PET’s strategy and objectives.


The Trustees take overall responsibility for decisions relating to whether a donation is accepted or refused.

The Trustees must be able to demonstrate that they have acted in the best interest of PET in each and every case.

The Trustees have a duty to consider carefully, on the basis of the evidence made available to them, whether PET’s interests will be better served by accepting or refusing the donation and to act accordingly.

These judgments must not promote any Trustee or employee’s personal moral agenda or interest and the Trustees must not allow individual or collective personal, political or ethical issues, which are not directly related to the interests of PET, to affect their judgment.

Trustees must derive no personal benefit (individually or collectively) from donations, loans or other material support offered to PET.

- Procedures

Guiding Principles

Relevant legal framework


On a day-to-day basis, PET’s Board of Trustees delegates the responsibility to accept or refuse donations to the Chief Executive, assisted by the Senior Management Team (SMT). The process for escalating concerns relating to potentially unacceptable donations is as follows:

  • The Head of Fundraising is responsible for ensuring that any potential corporate or individual donor is supporting PET in accordance with this policy. If any element of the policy is contravened the Head of Fundraising will raise concerns with the Chief Executive regarding the acceptance or refusal of a suggested donation.
  • Should there be continuing doubt about the acceptability of a the donation, the Chief Executive will ensure that these concerns are taken to the Board of Trustees with a recommendation as to whether a donation should be refused.
  • The Chief Executive, assisted by the Head of Fundraising, will present the case to the Board, including any evidence gathered, in order for the Trustees to make a decision regarding acceptance or refusal.
  • This decision, and the reasons for it, will be carefully noted in the Board minutes, and refused donors will be informed of the Board’s decision not to accept a donation, and the reasons for that decision.


A suggested donation must be clearly evaluated in order to establish whether it would be in the best interest of PET to accept or refuse it. The donation will be evaluated against these factors:

  • The donation should contribute towards PET’s overall strategy and plans.
  • PET should be able to successfully deliver the agreed activity and advance its mission under the conditions tied to the donation, such as schedule and channelling of payment(s), required co-funding if any, reporting requirements and other legal aspects of the contract/grant/agreement.
  • The donor’s objectives or activities must not appear to be incompatible with the PET’s vision, mission and values, particularly if this risks causing significant damage to PET’s integrity, public image or professional reputation.
  • PET will not accept donations from companies or individuals whose wealth is known to result from illegal activities or where there are indications of corruption or other economic crime.

PET will refuse donations in the following circumstances:

  • Where the activities of a donor are directly contrary to the objectives or agreed policies of PET.
  • Where PET suspects that the gift has been donated to facilitate money laundering or other criminal activity.
  • Where it can be clearly shown that the cost to PET of accepting a donation will be greater than the value of the donation itself, and that acceptance of the donation will directly lead to a net decline in the assets of the Charity.
  • Where the offer of support is dependent upon the fulfilment of certain conditions placed upon PET and any condition
    a) is in itself contrary to the objectives of PET; 
    b) is regarded as needing an unreasonable level of support from PET especially in relation to the size or impact the donation will have on PET’s charitable activities;
    c) will divert PET from pursuing its current objectives, policies or work priorities as a necessary result of the fulfilment of the conditions alone.

The Trustees (and their delegates) will take great care and consideration in deciding whether to refuse a donation:

  • Where an offer of support is dependent upon PET first spending its own money or resources in order to facilitate the conditions of the donation, as this might place PET’s assets under undue and inappropriate risk. Donations should preferably be given in full up-front or alternatively in instalments linked to an agreed contract and work plan.
  • Where the support, whilst reflecting the PET’s objectives, is unsustainable, for example, if PET does not have the resources to maintain the running costs associated with the donation.
  • Where the support consists of goods, services or property which PET cannot lawfully use, convert, exchange or sell in direct support of its charitable objectives.


As a way to pre-empt possible disputes and/or negative publicity in potentially difficult cases PET, as a UK registered charity, has the option of applying to the Charity Commission for an order authorizing PET to refuse a donation. This is contained within powers conferred on to the Charity Commission by Section 26, Charities Act 1993.

Whilst in general it is not sufficient cause to refuse a donation on the grounds of a general objection to the potential donor, Section 62, Charities Act 1992, Part II, does provide some leeway in this respect. However, precise procedures must be followed if injunctions from the courts are to be obtained.

Section 61, Charities Act 1992, Part II, provides for the return of donations of more than GBP 50 made by credit/debit card within a seven day ‘cooling off’ period.

PET Donation Refusal Policy
Drafted: March 2017
Adopted: March 2017
Review date: September 2017