Penny Appeal Canada Complaints Policy

Penny Appeal Canada recognizes the right of stakeholders to complain and seek redress in a safe, accessible and dignified manner. Penny Appeal Canada’s complaints policy applies to any expression of dissatisfaction about Penny Appeal Canada – about our staff, our volunteers, our partners, our contracted service providers or anyone else acting on our behalf. A complaint may be made by a person to whom we deliver services or who is affected by our services, a partner, a local organization with which we work, our staff, volunteers, donors or a member of the public and especially our rights-holders or project beneficiaries and those with any relation with the rights-holders. Penny Appeal Canada recognizes the complaint handling mechanism as one the most important functions to materialize its values and commitment to continually improve management practices and its programs.

The complaints policy recognizes the need to be accountable to donors and the wider community. It also takes cognizance of the huge power imbalance between aid givers and aid receivers which, if not addressed effectively, could lead to subsequent problems and issues at various levels. Penny Appeal Canada recognizes that every effort to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen capacities would lead to progress and development for the people we work with. With this recognition, Penny Appeal Canada ensures that its programming remains rights-holder focused at all the stages and during the course of project implementation communities have their say in variety of ways and channels. We understand that an effective complaints procedure is an important way to get feedback and improve on meeting the needs of the people we serve and who support us.

The ability to complain is informed to all stakeholders and all complaints are recorded and the action taken on every complaint is also recorded.

Our commitment to our vision, mission and values guides us not only to be vigilant by introducing various forms of internal controls but also alerts us to the need to allow our stakeholders to practice all those freedoms that nurture a friendly and conducive environment during the whole range of services and interventions by Penny Appeal Canada. This combination of vigilance and freedom at all times results in enhanced organizational performance, image and learning.

Receiving feedback from and responding to complaints from stakeholders is an important part of improving Penny Appeal Canada’s accountability. Penny Appeal Canada believes that any stakeholder has the right to raise a complaint, have that complaint addressed and receive a response for mistakes, wrongful actions or breaches of the codes to which Penny Appeal Canada subscribes.

A complaint can be made by any employee, volunteer, supporter, partner organization, community or individual with whom we work or any member of the public whether an individual, civil society organization, government, company or other entity.


A complaint is a formal way of voicing concern about behaviour, process or against actual or perceived violation of rights. A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the standards of service, actions or lack of action by Penny Appeal Canada or its staff, partners or anybody directly involved in the delivery of our work. It is a criticism that expects a reply and would like things to be changed. Complaints could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Concern from someone we work with about the quality of program delivery
  • Concern from a member of the public or supporter about a particular fundraising approach or campaign
  • Concern about the behavior or staff, volunteers or contractors.


Complainants are able to make a complaint as easily as possible: written correspondence, email, telephone, verbally, via a third party, etc. We are committed to making communication with us as easy as possible


Penny Appeal Canada will endeavor to assess and respond to complaints in writing as quickly as possible (usually within two weeks). In the event that a complaint cannot be resolved within this timeframe the complainant will be informed about the progress made to date and when they can expect to receive a response. Complaints should ideally be made within 3 months of the relevant incident.


Some complaints need to be kept confidential in order to safeguard those making or involved in the complaint. However, in some instances we might judge that the complainant will be better served if others are involved in the resolution of a complaint. Third parties will only be included in the resolution of confidential complaints on a case-by-case basis and with the agreement of the complainant.

Right to appeal

Complainants who have launched a well-founded complaint and who are unsatisfied with Penny Appeal Canada’s response to that complaint have the right to appeal. Penny Appeal Canada may refer the complainant to the Penny Appeal UK Head Office to seek redress.

Breach of Employment or Financial legislation

Complaints relating to a breach of employment or Canadian Revenue Agency legislation can be made through this Policy or directly to the Ministry in question.

Everyone who makes a complaint to Penny Appeal Canada will be treated with courtesy and respect. In return, Penny Appeal Canada expects people who make a complaint to communicate their concerns fairly and appropriately. Where complainants harass staff, behave abusively, or unreasonably pursue complaints, Penny Appeal Canada reserves the right to withdraw or modify its complaints process.

Can a registered charity return a gift to a donor?

In most cases, a registered charity cannot return a donor's gift. At law, a gift transfers ownership of the money or other gifted property from the donor to the charity. Once the transfer is made, the charity is obliged to use the gift in carrying out its charitable purposes.

However, a charity may try to retain the goodwill of donors seeking the return of their gifts by offering to transfer the gifted property to another registered charity.

This section is referenced from Government of Canada - CRA (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/charities-giving/charities/operating-a-registered-charity/receiving-gifts/returning-a-gift-a-donor.html)

When a registered charity must return gifts to donors

A charity is occasionally obliged by law to return gifts to donors. This can happen, for instance, when a charity asks the public to contribute to a special project and later events make it impossible to carry out the project. Under certain laws, ownership of the gifted property can revert to the donors if the project becomes impossible to fulfill.

The return of gifts to donors falls more appropriately under trust law than the Income Tax Act and is ultimately a matter for a court to decide. A charity may wish to consult legal counsel in these instances. We also strongly suggest that the charity, or its legal counsel see Guidance CG-016, Qualified donees - Consequences of returning donated property if it appears that the charity may have to return gifts to donors.

This section is referenced from Government of Canada - CRA (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/charities-giving/charities/operating-a-registered-charity/receiving-gifts/returning-a-gift-a-donor.html)

How to avoid having to return gifts to donors

When a charity is seeking funds for a special project, we recommend that the charity clearly inform donors, and/or state in its fundraising material, before accepting any donations, what it will do with the money if the project cannot be carried out or if more money is collected than the project requires. The charity could state, for example, that it will apply any unused donations to its other programs.

This section is referenced from Government of Canada - CRA (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/charities-giving/charities/operating-a-registered-charity/receiving-gifts/returning-a-gift-a-donor.html)

Part of a learning process

All serious complaints will be logged, and results of such complaints and this information will be brought, regularly and with the appropriate level of safeguarding to the attention of appropriate senior managers and the Chief Executive Officer.

Penny Appeal Canada will keep this policy under review, with annual reports provided to Penny Appeal Canada’s Executive Team and Board of Trustees/Directors. This report will also include consideration and comment on the application of lessons learned from previous years’ reports.

Penny Appeal Canada is a member of the Penny Appeal worldwide family. This policy covers Penny Appeal Canada and projects funded by Penny Appeal Canada only. However, if any complaint is received which relates to Penny Appeal in other countries, we will notify the complainant accordingly and forward it on for attention.

Complaints from employees or volunteers can be sent to:
Email: complaints@pennyappeal.ca

Complaints from donors, rights holders and the public can be sent to:
Donor Care Officer Penny Appeal Canada
55 Village Centre Place, Mississauga, ON, L4Z 1V9, Canada
Phone: 1-855-880-4141
Email: info@pennyappeal.ca

Complaints regarding Penny Appeal Canada’s work outside Canada:
Feedback and complaints can also be lodged in each of the countries in which Penny Appeal Canada has a presence.

Penny Appeal Canada will endeavor to assess and respond to complaints in writing as quickly as possible (usually within two weeks). As long as complainants furnish a contact e-mail or postal address, they will be kept informed of unreasonable delays to the investigation of an issue (e.g. due to unavailability of concerned staff or other reasons).