UK Charity Due Diligence Compliance Checklists

A charity due diligence compliance checklist, with links to Charity Commission and other detailed due diligence checklists for charities and non profits

Charity Due Diligence Checklists & Charity Commission Compliance

A simple charity due diligence checklist to meet Charity Commission compliance rules.  First use this charity checklist to assess the potential scale of risk then the due diligence checklist to identify the specific risks and action to manage these.  The checklist starts with basic checks, anyone can carry out quickly, then follows with more specific checks to use, if you wish to.  There are links to detailed Charity Commission and other regulator due diligence and compliance checklists at the bottom.  We have a separate fundraising donor due diligence guide.

What is Charity Due Diligence?

Charity due diligence is about checking to ensure that any potential partners, often donors, are trustworthy, responsible, and aligned with your charity's goals and that legal and regulatory requirements will be met. This might include checking their financial records, reputation, and how they operate to ensure the charity's resources are used effectively and ethically.

Download This Due Diligence Checklist In Word Format

The in-system bunny can download this charity due diligence checklist in Word format and also 40 other charity policy templates.  Register (everything is free), then login and click the in-system AI bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen.  Click its Policies button, ask it to hop off and get you a charity due diligence checklist then select the downloads option. If you think that's quite clever it can also write funding bids for you.

Due Diligence Related Policies

For example, the objects and powers in your charity governing document restrict what you can do, so you cannot just accept funding from any donor.  And if you do but need to refund it, it's not quite as simple as it might sound.  You may also need to consider issues, such suspicious donations, or managing large anonymous gifts, or those from vulnerable individuals.  If you need any of these fundraising policy templates, you can download an Acceptance & Refusal of Donations, Refunds and Ethical Fundraising policies by logging in and asking the AI bunny nicely.

Charity Due Diligence - Incident Reporting

In the event your due diligence uncovers a significant problem, you must be mindful of your obligations to report major incidents to the Charity Commission and, if appropriate, the Fundraising or other regulator; see below.


This charity due diligence checklist covers the main compliance issues you may need to think about and due diligence checks you may choose to carry out, with links to the relevant Charity Commission and OFSI regulatory guidance at the end, so you can adapt it as necessary to meet your charity's needs.

How Much Due Diligence Is Needed - The Scale of Risk

Due diligence can be time consuming, so taking a risk based approach to determine what and how much makes sense.  Ask your self these questions:

  • Is the donation or contract particularly sensitive, important, complex or large scale?
  • Is the organisation or donor well known and respected, or might they hold views, undertake activities or work in an area that may potentially be problematic?
  • How much potential is there for things to go wrong and what’s the worst that could happen?

A Quick, Simple Charity Due Diligence Checklist

Below are some very simple, but effective checks that anyone can carry out, followed by others that are a bit more technical. This due diligence checklist is not exhaustive and not all will apply - use the ones you need.

  • If they have a website, check that what they’re proposing fits with what’s on there.
  • If available, review what it says about key members of their team and, download and review, their annual report/accounts.
  • Carry out an internet search. On the company, partner, or donor, to see if there is anything of concern.
    • Search the name with a relevant key word, such as “complaint,” “review,” “rating", "bullying" or “scandal.”
    • Don’t just check page 1, as older issues may be sufficiently serious to still be relevant.
  • Check their records with their regulator(s), such as Companies House and/or the Charity Commission E&W, OSCR or CCNI.
    • Some regulators, such as OFSTED and CQC, publish inspection reports.
  • Speak to someone who has worked with them, or knows their sector well.
    • A phone call is best, as people tend to be more open.
  • Take up references, if appropriate.

There are various types of software that you can use to review companies.

More In-depth Charity Due Diligence Checklist

Detailed below are some issues you may wish to think about and due diligence checks you might consider.

Charity & Fundraising Ethics

Activities that are illegal or incompatible with your charity's values. Issues such as corruption/bribery, criminal activities, discrimination, exploitation of people, or the environment, or involvement with radical groups, or companies, regimes, products or services that conflict with your aims/values.

Charity Commission & Other Compliance

Significant breaches of regulatory or other frameworks, investigations by government agencies/police, court cases, debt default, or disqualifications.

Finance Due Diligence

Risk of takeover, sustained annual operating losses, level of leverage (debt) too high for their sector, bad credit risk, liquidity (cash flow) issues, weak asset base, unusual related party or intercompany transactions, or significant amounts of capital being taken out of company, adverse comments by auditors, court judgements, significant recent debt restructuring/profit warnings or redundancies.

  • If applicable, Companies House (or other registrar) records and obtain a copy of their accounts.
  • Buy an online company assessment/risk report.

Ability to Deliver

Capacity to deliver services/products, track record in delivery, security around key staff (eg a small company relying on a single individual), any supply chain issues (eg reliance on shipments from overseas), or an organisation that has operated in only a single area delivering in an entirely new one.

  • Check during negotiations and take up references specifically covering any areas of concern.

Reputational Risk

Any potential negative media attention, or concerns from other funders/partners from being associated with this company/individual.

  • Ask them.

Contract Due Diligence

  • Check that the balance between the costs, benefits and liabilities is fair, and.
  • There are no onerous or unreasonable obligations.
  • Also check for any hidden costs.
    • For example, additional management fees, charges you weren't expecting, unreasonably large late payment penalties, automatic annual uplifts in prices, or increases decided by the other party without your agreement.

Conflicts of Interest

Ensure that your conflict of interest policy is complied with.  If you don't have one, you can download one.  Additionally, our sector is driven by passion and funding is hugely challenging for many, which brings with it the risk of urgent need clouding thinking. The fundraisers and project leaders may well be best placed to carry out due diligence. However, their findings should be reviewed and approved by someone with the necessary experience and seniority, who is also sufficiently and demonstrably distant from the issue.


Charities are at risk from attempts to breach sanctions and scams and, anonymous donations, may pose a particular risk.  Outlined below are how these will be managed, with detailed procedures contained in the Charity Commission Compliance Toolkit.

Anonymous Donations & Scams

Donations through collection tins and online platforms are often anonymous and any donor may remain anonymous if he or she chooses to.  The Charity Commission 'know your' donor principle does not mean charities cannot accept anonymous donations and doing so is perfectly acceptable providing charities look out for suspicious circumstances and put adequate safeguards in place.

Trustees will take reasonable and appropriate steps to know who the charity's donors are and will not accept a donation where the risk to the charity is assessed to be greater than the benefit of having the funds donated.  We have a separate guide for fundraising due diligence, with donor compliance checklist.

Charity Due Diligence - Sanctions

With the crisis in the Ukraine both the Commission and banks are focussing much more on the risk of breaching sanctions.  This is a complex area as the sanctions applied can be to individuals, organisations or even countries, the sanctions applied vary and other countries also apply sanctions.  In some circumstances a charity may obtain a licence from OFSI or rely on an exception in the legislation.

However, other than those exemptions, it is against the law to receive money, goods or economic resources from, or send these to – an individual or organisation subject to financial sanctions.  In the event of any grounds to suspect the charity may be involved, or may become involved with a sanctioned individual, organisation or work in a sanctioned country, the first step is to read the OFSI guidance below, then seek and comply with their advice.


Trustees and CEOs may delegate authority, but the responsibility for getting it right remains theirs. Do you have adequate processes in place and what controls/checks are carried out to enable you to be confident these are working? Perhaps an agenda item for your next board meeting? Because, if something does go wrong, you may well be asked what you did to prevent it.


Listed below are Charity Co9mission and other regulator due diligence compliance checklists and guidance.

Access All The Free Resources & Free Funding Database

A registered charity ourselves, the CEF works for any non profit, not just charities.

Plus, 100+downloadable funder lists, 40+ policies, 8 online health checks and the huge resource base.

Quick, simple and very effective.

Find Funding, Free Help & Resources - Everything Is Free.

Register Now!

To access help and resources on anything to do with running a charity, including funding, click the AI Bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen and ask it short questions, including key words.  Register, then login and the in-system AI Bunny is able to write funding bids and download 40+ charity policy templates as well.

This Charity Due Diligence Article Is Not Professional Advice

This due diligence article and compliance checklists are for general interest only and does not constitute professional legal or financial advice.  I'm neither a lawyer, nor an accountant, so not able to provide this, and I cannot write guidance that covers every charity or eventuality.  I have included links to relevant regulatory guidance, which you must check to ensure that whatever you create reflects correctly your charity’s needs and your obligations.

In using this resource, you accept that I have no responsibility whatsoever from any harm, loss or other detriment that may arise from your use of my work.  If you need professional advice, you must seek this from someone else. To do so, register, then login and use the Help Finder directory to find pro bono support. Everything is free.

Register Now
We are very grateful to the organisations below for the funding and pro bono support they generously provide.

With 40,000 members, growing by 2000 a month, we are the largest and fastest growing UK charity community. How We Help Charities

View our Infographic

Charity Excellence Framework CIO

14 Blackmore Gate
United Kingdom
HP22 5JT
charity number: 1195568
Copyrights © 2016 - 2024 All Rights Reserved by Alumna Ltd.
Terms & ConditionsPrivacy Statement
Website by
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram