The Woodland Trust understands that through our fundraising activities we will on occasion come into contact with people that, at the point of the interaction, do not have the capacity to fully understand the nature of the gift they are being asked to give. The Woodland Trust also understands that people in vulnerable circumstances, whether these are temporary or permanent may need additional support before choosing to make a donation.

Where we suspect that we are engaging with someone that currently lacks the capacity[1] to give, we will draw to a close the interaction in a manner that seeks to protect the individual as well as maintaining their dignity. The Woodland Trust understands and welcomes people’s desire to support their favourite causes but as a charity we have an obligation to protect those in vulnerable circumstances.

Where an individual in vulnerable circumstances, whether temporary or permanent, engages with the Woodland Trust we will strive to respond to the individual’s needs and adapt our approach to suit the requirements of the individual. The Woodland Trust does not advocate different treatment of some groups of individuals based purely upon a personal characteristic (such as disability or age).

The Woodland Trust understands that some forms of fundraising carry an increased risk of both interacting with a vulnerable person, as well as an increased risk of a donation being erroneously given. Both through telephone and face to face fundraising whenever a fundraiser suspects that a member of the public lacks the capacity to give, they will politely but immediately end the engagement, thanking the individual for the time they have taken to listen. These conversations should be drawn to a close, without making any enquiries about the individual’s capacity to give and where possible without asking for a donation. This approach applies to all fundraisers acting on behalf of the Woodland Trust whether directly employed or operating through a third party.

The Woodland Trust understands that when fundraising with the public it may not always be clear if an individual is vulnerable or lacks the capacity to give. This is more often than not the first time the fundraiser has spoken with the individual, to help with this, the Woodland Trust have internal training to help identify vulnerable individuals and their enhanced requirements, but our approach is to always err on the side of caution.

Returning donations

In the rare situation where the Woodland Trust receives a donation from someone lacking the capacity to understand the implications of their gift, we will use our best endeavours to return the gift; the Woodland Trust will need to be satisfied that at the time of the gift, the individual was unable to understand the consequences of giving. The Woodland Trust will not return a donation where the donor has made an error in judgement and was not in vulnerable circumstances. If you would like to request a refund, please contact our Support Services Response Team:

  • By calling 0330 333 3300
  • By emailing
  • Or by post to: Support Services Response Team, Woodland Trust, Kempton Way, Grantham, NG31 6LL

Please note that calls to our Support Services Response Team may be monitored or recorded.

This approach has been influenced by the guidance published by the Institute of Fundraising: Guidance, the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Practice and the DMA White Paper guidelines for call centres dealing with vulnerable consumers.

[1] A note on terminology; the Woodland Trust uses 'lacking capacity' as a legal definition in line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as outlined in section 2.

September 2019