Questions about giving

Answers to some questions frequently asked about donating and fundraising for Fairtrade.

  • Why is the Fairtrade Foundation asking for donations?

    Farming is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40% of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households. It is an intensive and difficult job, and yet many of those who produce our food do not earn enough to feed their own families. Fairtrade believes in a future where farmers and workers receive a fair price and earn a fair wage, so they can feed their families properly, and work their way out of poverty.

    There are many more farmers and workers that need our support. Fairtrade must continue to grow, to reach more people, and to do more to deepen the impact of Fairtrade. The licence fee from Fairtrade certified products alone does not provide enough income for us to do this. Donations enable us to do more.

    An example is where donations have helped to pioneer a new Fairtrade rice supply chain from Myanmar. Poverty in Myanmar is widespread. Over 60% of the population are involved in agriculture, predominantly rice. The price farmers receive from selling their rice is typically very low and the farmers are often open to exploitation. In partnership with Traidcraft, Fairtrade Foundation donations have helped establish a new cooperative through activities that include:

    • Signing up farmers as co-operative members and registering the co-operative as a legal business, so that farmers are able to negotiate for a better deal with buyers
    • Training on financial management and democratic participation, so that farmers can run their own business
    • Training in how to apply for Fairtrade certification, the first step to seeing Fairtrade rice from Myanmar on UK shelves.

    In the Fairtrade Foundation’s early years, fundraised income accounted for more than half of total income. Without fundraised income it would have been impossible to grow and develop as we have. This is still the case.

  • How will we spend your donation?

    Your donation will support projects that extend the reach and deepen the impact of Fairtrade.

    We are carrying out much more work that goes beyond the licensing of Fairtrade certified products. Examples include:

    • Increased assistance to farmers and workers to join Fairtrade = better prices, working conditions and the Fairtrade Premium

    • Training to increase yield and quality of crops = more money to spend on basics like food and education

    • Climate change adaptation programmes = farmers can continue to produce the crops they rely on

    • Support to women farmers to take more equal roles = the chance to earn an independent income

    Donations help us invest in innovation and pursue new opportunities.

    Fairtrade Gold is one example of the difference donations can make. This is the first certification scheme of its kind to be developed in support of small-scale, artisanal mining communities in the developing world. 

    There are currently 16 million small-scale gold miners and a further 100 million people who indirectly rely on small-scale mining for a living. Small-scale mining is one of the most dangerous industries in the world, and miners often work in very remote and harsh conditions with little or no health and safety measures in place. Fairtrade Gold offers a lifeline to these miners, their families and communities. Fairtrade gives strict standards on working conditions, women’s rights, child labour and environment management; in return miners gain access to new markets and receive an additional premium – extra money to develop their businesses and invest in their communities. 

    Whilst this work has received grant support from Comic Relief, donations from the public have been instrumental in enabling us to develop, manage and deliver it.

  • Does my donation go directly to the farmers and workers?

    Your donation will support the projects that we run to bring Fairtrade to more farmers and workers, and to deepen the difference Fairtrade makes to their lives. We do not give money directly to farmers or workers. 
    Farmers work hard every day but are often not paid enough to meet even their basic needs. Sometimes they do not even earn enough to provide themselves and their families with enough food to eat. Your donation will help change this, enabling more farmers to get a fair deal and the opportunity to make a decent living.
    For most products Fairtrade farmers’ organisations receive a minimum price from the companies they sell to, which acts as their safety net when market prices drop, plus an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in their businesses and communities. Fairtrade puts farmers and workers in a stronger position to negotiate a fairer share of the value of their produce and a better say in how their work is organised. 
    It is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those who consume it. Experience shows us that empowering farmers and workers is a long-lasting and powerful way to tackle poverty in the developing world. 

  • Why do you prefer people to make regular donations rather than one-off donations?

    Regular donations are more cost effective as they generate less administration and carry cheaper bank charges. They enable us to plan for the future and ensure money is available where it is needed most. Regular gifts mean a consistent, predictable income so we can plan and budget better. This enables us to be more efficient with the projects that we develop to assist farmers and workers in the developing world.


  • Can I ensure my money goes to a particular project?

    With the exception of occasional specific appeals, we prefer for donations not to be made to specific projects. This gives us the greatest flexibility to allocate funds to support the projects that need it the most.

    An example is where funds are required for new projects that need support quickly. Donations were used to assist with a climate change adaptation project in the Puna region of Peru. The small, family-run coffee farms in this area are highly vulnerable to water shortages which are becoming worse as a result of climate change. Through the ‘Adapt Now' initiative, co-ordinated by our partners at Twin - a development-through-trade organisation - donations helped to pay for:

    • The establishment of 'Climate Field Schools', teaching local farmers about water conservation and management
    • A specialised water management workshop with lead farmers, who can then pass these learnings onto others within the co-operative
    • Demonstration plots, where water conservation techniques can be exhibited to farmers

  • Don't donations conflict with the principle of 'trade not aid'?

    We believe that global trade should benefit all those involved. But often the farmers and workers who produce our food are not receiving a fair share of the value of their produce, leaving them unable to feed themselves and their families. This is why Fairtrade exists, to support these farmers and workers to receive a fairer price and a fairer wage. 

    ‘Trade not aid’ is a commonly used phrase that embodies the approach of Fairtrade. Enabling producers to earn more through improved terms of trade allows them to provide for their families and invest in their futures. Investment and innovation in agriculture often leads to development, jobs and higher standards of living. Conventional forms of development aid do not always have the same potential for a longer-lasting improvement in people’s lives and for further benefits.

    Fundraising and donations do not conflict with this approach, they actually complement it. Donations help us to run projects that bring Fairtrade to more farmers and workers, and deliver projects that enable farmers to tackle some other large threats to their livelihoods such as climate change and devastating crop diseases. Donations are not passed on directly to farmers in the form of cash handouts. 
    In Latin America there is a fungus that affects coffee bushes that is known locally as la roya. It can prevent the growth of berries or even kill trees. This disease can destroy the coffee farmers’ harvests, wiping out their income. A project part funded by donations to the Fairtrade Foundation provided vital training to farmers in El Salvador on how to deal with la roya. The training taught farmers how to save some trees, diagnose the disease early, and how to help prevent it from spreading. This project has transformed the fortunes of these coffee farmers and is a great example of the difference your donations can make.

  • Is the Fairtrade Foundation able to accept donations?

    Yes, the Fairtrade Foundation is a non-profit organisation, registered as a UK charity (no. 1043886).

  • Why is your head office in London when office space must be cheaper elsewhere?

    Our Head Office is located in London because it is necessary for us to have close access to the companies that we certify, other charities and organisations that we collaborate with, and be easily accessible to visiting farmers. The choice of head office for any charity is a compromise between costs, skill base and the need to be in an influential position.

    Like other charities, we follow good practice procedures and regularly review our locations and associated costs.