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How we govern ourselves and spend the money we receive

Some frequently asked questions...

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What is WWF-UK's investment policy

Our investment policy is to maintain the real value of our investments and to maximise income by way of a diversified portfolio consistent with the Trustees’ legal powers and duties. This is underpinned by our socially responsible investment policy, which promotes the principles of sustainable development and improvements to the environment.

To find out more, please read our Annual Report.

How does WWF-UK work with the corporate sector?

We believe passionately that in order to address the huge challenge of moving towards a global, sustainable future, we must work with companies to help them lessen their impact and embed sustainability at the heart of their business.

It is simply not enough to only work with companies that are already doing everything right. We must be willing to form challenging and constructive relationships with the companies that are able to drive real change in global markets and our priority eco-regions.

Doesn’t working with big business compromise WWF's position as an independent conservation organisation?

No. In fact, we believe it is quite the opposite. It is imperative for us to work with business and industry if we are serious about achieving our mission. We can support companies that are doing the right thing and influence companies that need to change their practices. By combining our strengths we can drive real, lasting change in the global markets and our priority eco-regions.

A list of current partnership with can be found here.

How can I make sure my donation is safe?

A. The Fraud Advisory Panel and Charity Finance Group have produced a guide to giving safely aimed at individual charitable donors in the UK. It provides practical advise to giving safely and avoiding potential scams to ensure your donations reach WWF and other charities you support.

What do you do with the money that I give to WWF?

  • 57% of our income goes directly on conservation programmes
  • 26% is spent on the cost of generating funds - for every £1 spent, £4 is generated
  • 12% on communicating and influencing
  • 3% on gifts in kind
  • 2% is spent on our governance and monitoring systems, which ensure we remain accountable
You can be sure we're always looking at ways of cutting our administrative costs and overheads wherever possible, especially in tight financial times.

Why does WWF use blanket fundraising methods like ringing people at home, stopping people in the street and knocking on their doors?

We do try to target communications to reach those people most likely to be interested in our work, but this is not an exact science. Experience has shown us that if charities don't ask people for support using different methods, it is much less likely that we will be able to raise the funds necessary to undertake our work.

In this “multi-channel” world, where people get their information in all sorts of ways, we can't afford to miss out. In addition, different people get their information from different places; not everyone can be reached using the press for example, so without these methods we would risk not communicating with potential supporters.

WWF has found that meeting people in the street or at home helps to raise awareness as well as gaining new and long term support. We ask people to help us by signing a petition, texting a donation or by committing to a regular Direct Debit donation. We do not take cash donations this way. We use the phone to call our existing donors or to contact those that have already expressed an interest in WWF.

We have found all of these fundraising methods to be a cost effective way of reaching new audiences which is vital if we are to maintain and grow our conservation programmes. However we are always monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of these campaigns and if they are no longer proving cost effective we will either adapt or drop the activity.
All WWF fundraisers will have an ID Badge and will be wearing clothing or a tabard with our logo on it. They will also be very knowledgeable about the charity.

If you are unsure whether they are genuine or wish to provide any feedback please call our Supporter Care team on 01483 426333 - we are available to answer your calls 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Alternatively use this form to email us or write to us at:
Supporter Care Team
The Living Planet Centre
Rufford House
Brewery Road
Surrey, GU21 4LL

As a member of the Fundraising Standards Board we are committed to the best fundraising practice and follow FRSB Guidelines.

How much of my donation goes on fundraising and administration?

A. We're quite clear about how much goes on fundraising and support. Like any other kind of organisation, charities have support and income-raising costs to ensure their existence and effectiveness.

We are constantly working to maximize the money going to our conservation action around the world – whether it's paying for highly skilled field conservationists, or professional lobbyists in the corridors of power.

More than 180,000 charities in the UK complete with us for your funding and attention, so we also invest in communicators and fundraising staff to keep the spotlight on the vitally important work we are doing and ensure the money keeps flowing in.

Fundraising costs ensure we survive. In order to secure income to achieve our work it is necessary to spend money on communicating our need for funds. These fundraising costs vary depending on who the organisation is asking (government, private individuals, companies or foundations). We seek to raise funds from a variety of sources in order to maximise the amounts of money raised and reduce reliance on a small number of funders, who could pull out leaving the charity in difficulty.

Support costs ensure we are effective. To ensure as much money as possible goes to the cause, charities have to be efficient and manage their organisations very effectively. The support costs spent on IT, HR, finance, planning and project management ensures the charity's infrastructure supports its aims and delivery.

How do the different types of fundraising compare?

A. Each charity has its own criteria for judging the effectiveness of different types of fundraising. Essentially, charities judge fundraising by return on investment over time but each charity has to evaluate the audiences it wants to address and what will appeal to them.

Charities look at return on investment over time. At the most basic level this is the return on the investment made over a certain period. Although some forms of attracting new supporters won't make a positive return on investment in 12 months, the charity will have established that the returns over a longer period are such that this is justified.

Every charity has to evaluate the audiences it wants to appeal to. Clearly some forms of fundraising have a better return on investment (even with varying periods to judge returns) than others. Some reasons why charities do not only invest in the fundraising activity that gives the best return are:

Some methods will have the potential to raise a much higher volume of income than others, although they may have a lower return on investment;

The charity has made the decision to spread the risk among a number of types of fundraising in case some of them fail to be as effective over time;

Some types of fundraising generate gradual but continuous growth over time, whereas others just provide a one off injection of cash;

Different audiences can be accessed using different methods. Charities have to evaluate on an individual basis which audiences they want to address and who might be interested in supporting their work.

Why do you prefer people to make regular gifts?

A. Regular gifts mean charities have a consistent, predictable income, so we can plan and budget better and therefore be more efficient.

Regular gifts give long-term security and enable short-term response. They give security and confidence to react to situations as soon as they arise; and the income to carry on with our work whether issues are receiving media coverage or not.

Regular gifts mean less spent on support costs. Regular gifts also mean lower support costs and cheaper bank charges so that more of your money goes to our work.

Ongoing support helps us recoup the higher costs of securing new donors. Securing new donors' support is crucial to allow the charity to keep functioning. However, there is a certain cost associated with reaching those donors. If people commit to giving regularly for a year or more, charities will recoup those costs.

How is fundraising regulated? Is it licensed in any way?

A. Registered charities are regulated by the Charity Commission and/or OSCR in Scotland. There are laws about many aspects of charity fundraising and local authorities grant licences to collect in public places. New legislation in Scotland, England and Wales aims to make all aspects of charitable activity much clearer.

Charities are usually registered with the Charity Commission and/or OSCR

Look for the charitable registration number for charities. It should be printed on all fundraising materials. All charities have to be registered by the Charity Commission and/or OSCR. Charities set up in England or Wales are usually registered with the Charity Commission, which is the regulator and registrar for these charities. The Charity Commission is responsible for establishing charity status and securing compliance with charity law. The Charity Commission can look into wrongdoing by charities and has powers to make charities do what they're supposed to legally do. From Spring 2006, OSCR will take on similar functions to the Charity Commission, with the power to grant and remove charitable status.

Most charities have to produce accounts. All registered charities in England and Wales have to produce accounts and charities with a gross annual income over £10,000 have to send their accounts to the Charity Commission. In Scotland, all charities – regardless of income – have to produce annual accounts. Where a charity has an income of over £100,000 an audit is required. For those under £100,000 an independent examination is required.

New charity legislation will make charitable activity clearer. There is legislation in the pipeline which aims to clarify what constitutes charity. New legislation was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2005. This will also develop a new licensing system to cover public collections such as street and door-to-door fundraising.

How are charities governed?

A. Charities are usually registered with the Charity Commission and/or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), have a governing document and a trustee body.

The Charity Commission is established by law as the regulator and registrar for charities in England and Wales. In Scotland, OSCR has similar responsibilities to the Charity Commission.

The Charity Commission / OSCR fulfils this role by securing compliance with charity law, dealing with abuse and poor practice and enabling charities to work better within an effective legal, accounting and governance structure. They have powers to intervene in a charity to protect its assets where a formal investigation establishes serious mismanagement or abuse.

Every Charity must have a governing document setting out the charity's objects and usually how it is to be administered.

It may be a trust deed, constitution, memorandum and articles of association, rule, conveyance, will, Royal Charter, Scheme of the Commissioners or other formal document.

Every Charity must have a trustee body constituted in accordance with the governing document. Charity trustees are unpaid volunteers – there are some exceptions in Scotland - who under the charity's governing document are responsible for the overall control of the charity and ensuring that it is properly managed.

The trustees of all charities are under a duty to ensure that the charity keeps proper books and records, and that annual accounts are prepared. In many cases, the trustees must also prepare an annual report. Trustees must ensure that the accounts are subjected to external scrutiny, if that is required by legislation or by the charity's governing document. It is the trustees' responsibility to formally approve the charity's annual report and accounts.

Where does WWF get its money from?

To minimise the risk, we seek our funds from a variety of sources, which is the case for most charities. You can check this information in our annual report, which is published as part of the charity's financial reporting obligations.

We have to seek funds from a variety of sources. Most charities get the bulk of their income from private individuals giving modest amounts. In order to spread risk and maximise income, we try to ensure that we don't have just one funding source. Our annual report shows the percentage split of our fundraising income. Other charities get their income from similar sources, as well as charity shops, statutory funding, gifts and promotional income from companies and their employees and donations from trusts and foundations.

I wish to make a complaint or give feedback about WWF-UK

Your views are very important to us and we take any feedback we receive very seriously. If you are unhappy with any aspect of our work, we would like to hear about it. We appreciate the opportunity your comments give us to learn and improve.

Our commitment to you

  • We will, at all times, treat your complaints seriously
  • We will treat your complaints with sensitivity, discretion and understanding
  • We will respond to your complaint as quickly as we can. This will normally be within 3 working days, but if it is going to take longer, we will let you know and keep you updated.
Learn more about how we manage our complaints 

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