15.0 Events

KEY: * denotes legal requirement


15.1 Legal References for this Section


15.2 Pre-Event Planning

15.2.1 Venue/Location

a) When identifying a suitable venue/ location for an event, fundraising organisations:

  • MUST* consider issues of equal access for all, even if an event is being targeted at a specific group of people. 
  • MUST* ensure the venue complies with legal requirements about health and safety. 
  • MUST ensure the venue/location is fit for purpose, taking note of any restrictions.
  • MUST be able to justify any environmental impact the event may have.

b) If any specialist equipment is required or recommended, a list MUST be given to each participant/team far enough in advance for them to borrow/purchase any necessary items, making clear who is responsible for the kit and its suitability.

c) Participants MUST NOT be able to proceed if the equipment mentioned above is not adequate.

d) Where participants require the use of vehicles, organisers MUST advise participants to take rest stops and plan journey timetables that recognise road safety, especially speed limits.


15.2.2 Risk Assessment & Insurance

a) Fundraising Organisations which are employers MUST* carry out a sufficient and suitable risk assessment before undertaking an event of any size. Other fundraisers (who are not employers) MUST carry out a risk assessment where it is reasonable to do so.

b) Fundraising organisations MUST* carry out Criminal Records BureauDisclosure Scotland or Access NI checks where appropriate.

c) Any compulsory insurance policies (for example, covering employees and use of cars) MUST* be in place.

d) Fundraising Organisations MUST ensure there is sufficient third party public liability cover in place and MUST consider if other insurance cover should be taken out.

e) Fundraising Organisations MUST be clear which party is insuring against which risk.


15.2.3 Licences/Permissions

a) Fundraising Organisations planning an event MUST* ensure that any required permissions or licences are obtained from the local authority or other relevant bodies.

b) The maximum number of participants may be dictated by permissions/licences or local conditions. These numbers MUST NOT be exceeded – in some cases this will be a legal requirement that MUST* be adhered to under the licence agreement and/or insurance policy.

c) When looking to use private property, Fundraising Organisations planning an event in England and Wales MUST* obtain permission if necessary.

d) In Scotland, the position is more complex and, although generally there is no absolute legal requirement to do so, organisers MUST be able to show they have made reasonable attempts to liaise with land managers and obtain permission to ensure that there is no breach of the requirement to exercise access rights responsibly.

e) Organisations MUST comply with relevant local guidance or site specific information where appropriate when planning an event.

f) The Countryside Code in England and Wales and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Countryside Code MUST be observed by all.


15.2.4 Events on Open Access Land (England and Wales)

Events taking place in England and/or Wales may rely on the use of land mapped as “open access land” under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (‘the Act’). This right allows the public to use the relevant land on foot for open air recreation, subject to the user not causing damage to any walls, fences, hedges or gates and to a number of general restrictions set out at Schedule 2 of the Act. Schedule 2 provides that “open access land” may not be used for (amongst other things) :

  • organised games, camping, hand-gliding or para-gliding; or
  • engaging in any activity which is organised or undertaken for any commercial purpose.


As yet, there is no legal precedent which helps determine whether an organised fundraising event is affected by the restrictions in the Act.

a) If in any doubt, organisations planning an event on open access land MUST seek permission from landowners in respect of the particular activities they intend to undertake.


15.2.5 Written Agreements

a) Organisations MUST have written agreements with all external parties clearly highlighting all parties’ rights, responsibilities and obligations.

b) If any party is a professional fundraiser or a commercial participator, a written agreement MUST* be in place.


15.2.6 Promotional Materials

a) All promotional materials supplied to potential participants and, particularly, material sent to them as part of ‘fundraising packs’ MUST* indicate clearly if any part of the funds raised by the participant in the name of the organisation are to be used towards the participant’s expenses or otherwise to benefit the participant.

b) Recruitment materials designed to attract potential participants and, in particular, press advertisements, MUST NOT* mislead readers into believing that their commitment would be limited to any minimum personal registration fee.

c) Organisations MUST ensure that all marketing materials have accurate and clear details of the event and clearly state how the money raised from the event will be used.


15.2.7 Financial Procedures

a) Fundraising organisations MUST* obey tax and VAT rules and regulations for all events.

b) For monies received in advance of, or during an event, organisations MUST have financial procedures in place. For more information, please see please see 20.8 Handling Cash at Events.


15.2.8 Cancellations and Contingency Plans

a) Sponsorship forms MUST* be clear about whether sponsorship money is given subject to any conditions (eg. that the participant will complete a marathon). If money is given on this basis and a sponsored event is cancelled, or a participant is unable or unwilling to take part or complete the event for any reason, the participant MUST* contact donors and ask if they are still happy for sponsorship monies to go the organisation. If not, the donation MUST* be refunded to the relevant donors. If sponsorship money is given without conditions it automatically belongs to the relevant charity regardless of whether or not an activity is completed.

b) Fundraising organisations planning an event MUST have a plan to cover all eventualities that may reasonably be anticipated, and brief the relevant individuals to understand exactly what is expected of them.


15.2.9 Events Organised by Third Parties

Fundraising organisations MUST have an agreement with the event organiser allocating specific responsibilities and risk.


15.2.10 ‘In Aid of’ Managed Events

A volunteer acting 'in aid of' an organisation is raising funds but acting independently of the organisation. An organisation will often not know about the volunteer's acts. The Standards below only apply when the organisation has been made aware of the event.

a) If an individual or group contacts the organisation in order to put on a third party event there MUST be clear identification of the body responsible for the event and that the event is ‘in aid of’ and that the organisation will not accept any responsibility or liability for these events.

b) Organisations MUST make it clear to the individual or group that it is their responsibility to organise all aspects of the event.

c) Organisations MUST ensure that there are proper arrangements in place for monies to be transferred to the organisation quickly and efficiently.


15.3 People

15.3.1 Staff/Volunteers

a) Organisations MUST have marshals and stewards with relevant experience, where necessary.


15.3.2 Participants/Attendees

a) Organisations MUST NOT* unlawfully discriminate against people in respect of disability, sex or race, in relation to an event. Further information is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

b) Some participants may fall within the definition of professional fundraisers (for example, if the cost of the event is being paid for by the organisation or by sponsorship and falls outside the minimum level of remuneration permitted under the relevant legislation). If this is the case, there MUST* be a written agreement and organisations MUST ensure participants are aware of their legal obligations about giving donors certain information.

c) Where the participant does not personally pay the whole cost of the trip, but uses some of the sponsorship money for this purpose, organisations MUST ensure the participant knows that this MUST* be made clear to every donor.

d) Organisations may want to reserve the right to refuse permission for a potential participant to take part in an event. Any such refusal MUST* comply with consumer and discrimination legislation.

e) Any consents legally required for the participant to be involved in an event MUST* be obtained in writing in advance of the event taking place.

f) Fundraising organisations are legally responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their employees and those that are affected by their activities (so far as reasonably practicable). Fundraising organisations MUST* ensure that their health and safety arrangements (e.g. adequate medical cover and evacuation arrangements) are appropriate in the context of the event and country.

g) The fundraising organisation MUST ensure participants are aware of the fundraising targets they are expected to meet.

h) If a certain age, or level of fitness, preparation or training is required for safe participation this MUST be agreed with the participant in advance, along with any consents required for the participant to be involved, which MUST be agreed in writing in advance.


15.3.3 Specific Issues for Challenge Events

a) Travel legislation including the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 and the Civil Aviation Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing Regulations 2012 (“the Travel Regulations”) MUST* be complied with.

b) Fundraising organisations MUST be clear who is responsible for complying with the Travel Regulations.

c) Fundraising organisations MUST check the track record and reliability of the tour operator and any sub-contractors.

d) All data obtained in the course of preparing for and running an event MUST* be treated in accordance with the principles of data protection law.

e) When organising a challenge event and drafting data collection statements you MUST clarify with the tour operator who will be collecting the data and for what purposes the data will be collected and held.

f) If an event organiser, or participants themselves, fall within the definition of professional fundraiser or commercial participator, they MUST* have a written agreement in place with the organisation for which funds are being raised and MUST* make the appropriate statements.

g) The organisation for which funds are being raised MUST take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with these requirements.


15.4 On the Day

15.4.1 General

a) Before the event, organisations MUST conduct a final check to ensure everything is in place, especially fire exits, first aid and equipment provisions.

b) Organisers MUST implement procedures at the event to avoid congestion.


15.4.2 First Aid

a) Provision for first aid MUST* be made for employees and anyone else who might reasonably be considered to be affected by an organisation’s activities.


15.4.3 Selling/Trading

a) If selling products at an event, organisations which are charities MUST* ensure they are eligible to trade or that the trade fits within the trading exemptions.

b) Any products being sold at the event MUST* comply with relevant safety standards.

c) Any food being supplied MUST* comply with regulations applying to food (Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006, the Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006 or the Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006 or the Food Hygiene (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2006 as applicable). For further details contact the environmental health department of the relevant local authority.

d) If selling/providing alcohol, the relevant licences/permissions MUST* be in place and age limits MUST* be adhered to.


15.4.4 Raffles and Lotteries

a) If a lottery (which includes a raffle) is to be held at the event, it MUST* comply with the Gambling Act 2005 or Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and the Betting and Lotteries (Northern Ireland) Order 1994. For further information please see 13.0 Raffles and Lotteries.


15.5 Three Peaks

This section provides additional standards for the Three Peaks Challenge, where teams are challenged to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales.

a) An organiser MUST:

  • register all groups of 12 or more with the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, the central registration point for all of the peaks at least twelve months in advance (unless a shorter timeframe is agreed);

  • limit the number of walkers to no more than 200 per event;

  • only run events at peak times where crucial to success or if it is the only workable option;

  • remove the time pressure element by excluding the driving time between mountains and allocating a minimum driving time for all participants which is added to the walking time, regardless of the actual duration of the drive.

b) Arrival or departure MUST NOT be between the hours of 2300 and 0500.

c) Organisations MUST always use the Visitor Centre at Glen Nevis as the start point for Ben Nevis.


15.6 Post Event

15.6.1 Outstanding Monies

a) Organisations MUST* not allow participants to use tax-effective methods to pay the registration fee, minimum sponsorship or other fees in breach of the Gift Aid rules (which prevent Gift Aid being applied where, (a) the donor is either the participant or a "person connected" to the participant and (b) the benefit to the participant exceeds the permitted benefits).

b) Procedures and/or a policy for following up on non-payment and not reaching minimum sponsorship requirements MUST be in place.


There is more information about event fundraising in the Event Fundraising guidance.