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Donation Return Policy

This is the University’s policy on returning donations and the framework to apply when considering whether a donation can or should legally be returned.


1 Introduction

The University intends to prioritise the University’s best interests when receiving and managing donations. The University complies with the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice, which asserts that donations must not be returned except in exceptional circumstances.

1.1 Purpose of Policy

This policy outlines the University’s policy on returning donations and the framework to apply when considering whether a donation can or should legally be returned to a donor.

1.2 Scope

This policy applies to all donations made to the University.

2 Policy

2.1 In what scenarios would the University need to apply this policy

The sections below outline the scenarios in which the University might consider or might be obliged to make a refund to a donor.

2.1.1 If an appeal does not meet its target amount

Where the University runs a fundraising campaign that is restricted to a specific project and sets a minimum target for funds raised (for example, a Crowdfunder), if the minimum target is not met, and the funds cannot be directed to another cause under the same restriction, then any donations made will be refunded to donors.

2.1.2 If a donation is made in error

Under the Direct Debit Guarantee, if a payment is made in error via Direct Debit (for example, a duplicate payment or an incorrect amount), then a refund will be made. If it is apparent that a donation has been made in error via another method, for example two online donations from the same donor in quick succession (suggesting the form was accidentally submitted twice), then the donor would be contacted to confirm the error and, at their request, a refund of the payment made in error would be made.

2.1.3 For reputational or ethical reasons

The University applies its due diligence procedure and Ethical Fundraising Policy in the acceptance of all donations. If the University accepts a donation and subsequently learns that circumstances relating to that donor have changed and may be at odds with the University’s Ethical Fundraising Policy, then the Ethical Fundraising Policy will be applied, which stipulates the process that should be followed to agree whether it is appropriate to retain a donation, to return it to the donor, or to take other action as required.

If an individual makes a donation and it is subsequently discovered that the donor lacked capacity to make an informed decision about that donation at the time they made it, then the Fundraising with People in Vulnerable Circumstances Policy would be applied and the donation would be returned.

2.1.4 If the agreement with the donor cannot be fulfilled

There may be occasions where the terms of a Gift Agreement cannot be met. In these instances, the University would enter discussions with the donor with an aim to identify areas for alternative use of the funds. If an agreement cannot be reached then the funds would be returned to the donor.

2.2 Process for considering and making a refund

All requests for donation refunds should be made in writing to the Director of Advancement, who will progress the request as appropriate. They will make and retain a written record of decision making, and advice will be sought from the Charity Commission as required. The University’s policy is to make refunds to the original payment method and donor, but we recognise there may occasionally be exceptional circumstances that mean the refund must be made via an alternative method and/or to a different beneficiary.

3 Roles and Responsibilities

The Director of Advancement has overall responsibility for application of this policy. University staff fundraising on behalf of the University are responsible for ensuring they understand and apply this policy.

Ethical Fundraising Policy Due Diligence Procedure Fundraising with People in Vulnerable Circumstances Policy

5 Document Control Information

Owner: Director of Advancement

Version number: 1

Approval date: 24 January 2023

Approved by: University Executive Board

Date of last review:


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