People in Vulnerable Circumstances Policy

Aid to the Church in Need (UK)

People in Vulnerable Circumstances Policy


  • As a Catholic charity, ACN wishes to give special consideration to those in vulnerable circumstances.
  • We wish to follow charity law and best practice guidance to fundraise in a considerate and responsible way in order to reflect our values and enhance the reputation of our charity as being compassionate and fair.

There are various requirements from different sources that will inform our approach to fundraising when coming into contact with people in vulnerable circumstances:

    • We are registered with the Fundraising Regulator (FR) which operates the Code of Fundraising Practice (the Code). We have committed to follow the Code and the Fundraising Promise. The following four values support all standards in the Code.
      • Legal: All fundraising must meet the requirements of the law.
      • Open: Fundraisers must be open with the public about their processes and must be willing to explain (where appropriate) if they are asked for more information.
      • Honest: Fundraisers must act with integrity and must not mislead the public about the cause they are fundraising for or the way a donation will be used.
      • Respectful: Fundraisers must demonstrate respect whenever they have contact with any member of the public.
    • We are members of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) which provides supporting guidance and information to charities about fundraising. We follow the four key principles set out in the Institute of Fundraising guidance Treating Donors Fairly: Fundraising with People in Vulnerable Circumstances (2016):
      • Respect for the donor’s wishes.
      • Responsiveness to the donor’s needs.
      • Fairness to the donor and not being discriminatory.
      • Accountability for ACN’s actions in line with the Code.

This policy is intended for people making donations and Mass offerings. There are separate Terms and Conditions for trading transactions, which are advertised on the ACN website and in ACN sales literature. ACN will update this policy as required from time to time.

In the context of people making donations or Mass offerings to our charity, they are broadly those suffering from stress or anxiety, usually caused by mental or physical illness. Their condition may affect their judgement and influence them to make a donation or Mass offering which they afterwards regret. Therefore it is essential, in order to respect their wishes, for us to respond fairly and in accordance with the IoF Guidance. The IoF recommends that we do not refer to ‘vulnerable people’, but to ‘people in vulnerable circumstances’, which is less judgemental.

Someone under 16 is automatically considered in vulnerable circumstances, and we would not knowingly accept a donation or Mass offering from them. Also, we would not wish to hold their details on our database. If a parent or guardian believes that a child is on our database, they should contact us.

Telephone donations and Mass offerings

Those who take phone calls for ACN are trained to recognise persons in vulnerable circumstances, and they might invite the caller to reconsider their donation and perhaps consult someone else before making a decision. We do not wish to offend our supporters, but the Institute of Funding says it is better to risk offending a donor by postponing taking a donation rather than accepting one from a person in vulnerable circumstances. We may also offer to reduce the frequency of the appeals we send them, perhaps to just twice a year, if this will help them.

We offer all persons making a donation or Mass offering a ‘cooling off’ period, so that they can ask that a transaction with our charity can be cancelled. We offer to refund any donations or Mass offerings if the donor asks for this within seven days of our receiving the money. After seven days have elapsed, a refund of a donation will be considered on an individual basis. We cannot refund Mass offerings after seven days, because the money is sent to bishops and priests and Masses are offered for the particular intentions of the donor.

Online and postal donations and Mass offerings

When an online donation or Mass offering is made, you will see a website ‘alert’ for people in vulnerable circumstances, and a similar message is printed in our postal appeals. We offer the same facilities for refunds as for telephone donations or Mass offerings.

If you are looking after the financial affairs of someone else under an LPA, we will be pleased to take your instructions on their behalf, after you have sent us a copy of the LPA for us to register it.

If you are a person in vulnerable circumstances, then under the Data Protection Act 2018 we can only record and hold anything relating to your circumstances, such as medical information, with your explicit permission. You have the right to ask for such data to be disclosed to you.

We can only take instructions to change your data, or disclose it, with authority from you or from someone holding a Lasting Power of Attorney on your behalf (see section 4). Please refer to our Privacy Policy for more information about data protection.

If you have any concerns or questions you should contact the ACN Supporter Care Officer.