How to complain about a charity (Northern Ireland)

Constituents sometimes ask Members of Parliament how to complain about a charity. This page outlines various options depending on the nature of the complaint.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland registers and regulates charities in Northern Ireland.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland will investigate some, but by no means all, concerns raised with it.

How to raise a concern

The trustees of a charity are responsible for the running of the charity. In many cases a concern should be raised with the trustees first.

Complaints about issues likely to cause harm or damage to a charity should be raised with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

A serious concern, such as one which relates to criminal activity by a charity, should be reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland as well as to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland page Concerns about charities guidance provides an overview. The guidance How to raise a concern about a charity gives examples of issues to be dealt with by charity trustees, and those to be dealt with by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Complaints to other bodies and agencies

In some circumstances, it might be appropriate to direct a complaint to another agency.

Fundraising complaints

The Fundraising Regulator investigates complaints about charitable fundraising where these cannot be resolved by the organisation itself. A list of the issues which the Fundraising Regulator can investigate may be found in the Complaints process area of its website.

Generally, complaints should be made to the Fundraising Regulator within two months of the charity’s final response.

It is possible to complain on behalf of someone else who gives their consent.

The Fundraising Preference Service, operated by the Fundraising Regulator, allows people to control the nature and frequency of the direct marketing communications they receive from fundraising organisations registered in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The FPS website provides information on how to complain about charities who continue to send communications after an FPS request has been submitted: FAQ 8: I want to complain.

Advertising complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority is the United Kingdom’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. A constituent may contact the Advertising Standards Authority to complain about:

  • an advertising campaign which he or she thinks is offensive, deceptive or inaccurate
  • the quantity of mail or email he or she receives from a charity

[Gov.uk: Complain about a charity]