We believe that giving to your favourite causes should be a positive experience for all.

What is a vulnerable person?

We recognise that some of the people we engage with through our fundraising activities will not always have the capacity to fully understand the nature of the donation they are being asked to make to Barnardo’s, or the consequences of making that donation.

An individual who finds it difficult to immediately make an informed decision about the choices offered to them is called a 'vulnerable person'.

A vulnerable person may experience:

  • a diagnosed condition such as dementia
  • a recent bereavement
  • an undiagnosed or temporary mental health condition such as severe anxiety
  • learning difficulties
  • difficulty understanding the language

Our obligation to protect vulnerable people

Barnardo’s has an obligation to protect vulnerable people and those in vulnerable circumstances. Whenever we suspect that someone we engage with is lacking capacity or is in vulnerable circumstances – we call them a 'vulnerable supporter' – we will take steps to terminate the contact in a way which seeks to:

  • protect that person
  • protect their dignity
  • note any desire they have expressed to support Barnardo’s

Fundraising and vulnerable supporters

If a fundraiser suspects that a person they are talking to may be vulnerable, they must end the conversation immediately. They should do this politely, without:

  • making a request for a donation
  • asking about the individual’s capacity to make a decision or the existence of vulnerable circumstances

We know that it may be difficult in some situations for fundraisers to decide whether or not someone is in a vulnerable circumstance or lacks capacity. We provide guidelines for fundraisers but our approach is always to err on the side of caution.

This applies to all fundraising, by our direct employees and volunteers or through a third party or agency.

We believe everyone has the right to donate if they wish to and are able to do so. That's why we offer further support for people in vulnerable circumstances who want to make a decision about whether to make a donation.

Our policy is informed by the Institute of Fundraising’s (IoF) code of fundraising practice and their guidance Treating Donors Fairly

Our vulnerable person policy

  • Barnardo’s is compassionate towards its supporters and will never exploit vulnerability
  • we will always do everything we can to assist supporters to make informed decisions about the support they choose to give to Barnardo’s
  • we fully comply with the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Fundraising Practice
  • when dealing with supporters via telephone, we follow guidance provided by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), specifically: Barnardo’s only works with telephone fundraising professionals who agree and follow the DMA’s guidelines for call centres dealing with vulnerable consumers (August 2015)
  • Barnardo’s allows supporters or those acting on their behalf to declare vulnerability
  • Barnardo’s will not contact supporters with the aim of asking for an increase in their giving where the supporters' records indicate a declaration of vulnerability
  • regardless of whether a declaration has been made or not, Barnardo’s does not accept donations where it has reason to believe that a supporter may be experiencing vulnerable circumstances and that accepting the donation would be ethically wrong and/or harmful to the donor
  • should a situation arise where Barnardo’s becomes aware that it has unknowingly accepted donations from an individual during a time that he or she was experiencing vulnerable circumstances, it will endeavor to return all donations accepted during this period
  • should Barnardo’s receive information regarding a supporter’s vulnerability from a third party, it will not act on any request to alter the supporters’ preferences unless the third party can provide evidence that he or she has authority to act on behalf of the supporter
  • if Barnardo’s becomes aware of a situation where a third-party agency acting on its behalf has not acted in accordance with this policy, it may stop working with the agency or ask that individual fundraisers responsible for non-compliance with the policy be removed from Barnardo’s campaigns
  • Barnardo’s recognises that it may sometimes be difficult for fundraisers to assess the vulnerability of a supporter; in cases where a fundraiser is unsure, they must ask their manager for a second opinion and approval to accept any donation
  • if you believe you have interacted with a vulnerable supporter and you are concerned about their welfare, you must follow the Barnardo's safeguarding policy