Donating during an emergency

Person's hand holding a red paper heart-shaped cutout.

The generosity of the UK public is a strength of our society. People often want to help others during an emergency, even when that emergency isn’t happening in their community or country.

Information for individuals

Donating money can help give people affected by emergencies dignity in choice, by deciding what they need to support themselves. It can also help to put money back into the local economy and rebuild communities. 

Where people are able to, we encourage donating money through reputable organisations to support those affected by emergencies. 

You should look out for appeals from the community about what is needed to help, rather than turning up at community centres or emergency response points with donations. 

The information below can help you consider ways to donate money in an emergency.

Local and regional emergencies

  • If an emergency has happened in your area, you should check with your local council or a trusted local charitable organisation to see if they are running an appeal that you can donate money to.
  • To help you donate money safely, you can search the charity register to check the charity’s name and registration number. Most charities with an income of £5,000 or more must be registered, which means they are regulated by The Charity Commission.
  • UK Community Foundations operate across the UK and use their extensive connections with local charities, voluntary organisations, local councils and donors to act quickly when an emergency happens. Find your local Community Foundation if you want to get involved in community giving.

National emergencies

  • Use the information above to support your community. A national or multi-regional emergency may affect you if it’s happening in your area, or because it is similar to something you have previously experienced or have a connection to.
  • In the event of a national emergency, you can check to see if the National Emergencies Trust (NET) has set up an appeal that you can donate money to.
  • NET is an independent charity that offers people one trusted place to give, working with other charities and groups to share out funds quickly and fairly.

International emergencies

  • When an emergency happens overseas, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) might set up an appeal, so your support can get to those who need it quickly.
  • It is better to donate money internationally through reputable organisations, like DEC, as overseas physical donations require consideration of customs, storage and transport fees, which can be expensive.

Information for businesses

The best way to help is by donating money through trusted charities and recognised voluntary organisations.

However, businesses can also support communities when an emergency happens by providing:

  • Specialist equipment or technologies.
  • Specialist or technical services or skills.
  • Specialist or everyday goods and necessities.
  • Logistics support or warehouse facilities.
  • Other resources that might be needed.

If you are a business offering support, you could get in touch with the local council or Local Resilience Forum (or devolved equivalent) where the emergency is happening, to see if they are able to accept it. Bear in mind that local services will be under significant pressure during an emergency.