Giving to Imperial should be a positive experience for all of our existing or potential supporters. We recognise that inevitably a few of the many people we engage with through our fundraising activities may be classed as temporarily or permanently vulnerable and that we should be especially compassionate and respectful when engaging with these individuals.

We define a ‘vulnerable supporter’ as an individual that lacks the capacity to understand or make an informed decision about making a donation, or may be experiencing a situation whereby they are prone to increased vulnerability and may require additional support from others before making a decision to donate. Such individuals may be experiencing all or none of the following:

  • A medical condition such as dementia
  • Financial hardship
  • A recent bereavement
  • A long-term or temporary mental health condition such as severe anxiety

To ensure that we are following best practice in our interactions with supporters this policy has been informed by:

Indicators of vulnerability

We acknowledge that vulnerability can be difficult to recognise and that it can also change over time. We do not identify vulnerable supporters based on specific personal characteristics like age or disability but instead identify vulnerability on a case by case basis. As it is not possible to formulate a comprehensive list of all indicators of vulnerability, and as these indicators will differ from person to person, we instead encourage our fundraisers to take a precautionary approach and use their best judgment.

We follow the guidance on indicators of vulnerability given by the Institute of Fundraising in all forms of our communication.

Telephone and face-to-face communications

Indicators in a conversation that an individual may be vulnerable include:

  • Confusion – the individual may be asking irrelevant questions, making irrelevant statements or responding to questions when it is clear that they have not understood what has been discussed
  • Repetition – the individual is clearly unable to retain information that has already been given as they keep repeating questions that they have previously asked
  • Explicit statements – the individual explicitly states that they feel vulnerable, indicates that they are financially vulnerable and a donation would create financial hardship, or states that a relative or trusted friend attends to their donations and financial matters
Written communications

In some cases we may be able to identify vulnerable supporters through written communications such as:

  • When a supporter has emailed or written to tell us that they are vulnerable
  • When a supporter’s family member, carer or close friend has indicated that they are vulnerable
  • Through incomprehensible handwriting or text which indicates that a supporter does not have full capacity
Family members, carers and friends

We may be contacted by a family member, carer or close friend to inform us that a current supporter is temporarily or permanently vulnerable. Where we have been given this information we act upon it, asking what kinds of communication, or frequency of communication, if any at all, is appropriate.

Communication preferences

We will update our records to reflect the wishes of an individual, another person contacting us on their behalf, or on our fundraisers’ observation. Where an individual is permanently vulnerable, for example they may be suffering from Alzheimer’s, we will record them in our record as ‘Do not contact’ to ensure that they do not receive further communications or contact from us. For individuals who are temporarily vulnerable such as due to stress and anxiety from bereavement, unemployment, ill physical health and or ill mental health, we may choose to halt communications temporarily, but recognise that the person may wish to have contact with us in the future. We will record this as ‘Do not contact temporarily’ or we will record an appropriate time-frame of no contact. If appropriate we may ask the supporter when they would like us to resume future communications. We will not record sensitive information about a supporter’s vulnerability unless they have explicitly given us permission to do so.

Returning donations given by vulnerable people

Despite our efforts to protect vulnerable supporters and to ensure we engage with them appropriately, there may be the rare occasion where we have received a donation and there are concerns about the donor’s mental capacity to have made the donation. In these circumstances we would return the donation to the individual as we will not accept donations unless we are satisfied that the individual was able to understand the consequences of making the donation.

We may amend this Vulnerable Supporters Policy from time to time. Any significant changes to this Policy will be communicated via this page.

Advancement Division
February 2017