16.0 Public Collections
KEY: * denotes legal requirement
This section covers collections for cash, goods and Direct Debits whether carried out in public places, from house to house or on private property. The law governing collections varies according to the type and location of the collection and the nature of donation sought. For a detailed explanation of the different legal requirements, see the Legal Guidance.
The controls on public collections apply to collections for charitable purposes, and include collections for benevolent and philanthropic purposes. The controls apply to collections for all Fundraising Organisations which are charities, but also to collections for those which are not charities but are established for benevolent and philanthropic purposes.
16.2 Legal References in this Section
- House to House Collections Act 1939
- House to House Collections Regulations 1947 (“the Regulations”)
- House to House Charitable Collections Act (Northern Ireland) 1952
- House to House Charitable Collections Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1952 & 1953
- Model street collection regulations contained in the Charitable Collections (Transitional Provisions) Order 1974
- Police, Factories, etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916
- Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
- Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984.
16.3 Licensing/Permission Requirements
c) In England and Wales, a licence to collect MUST* be obtained from the relevant authority in the area, such as the local authority or the Metropolitan Police (unless the collection is house to house and the charity holds a National Exemption Order – see the Legal Guidance and below for further detail).
d) In Northern Ireland, an appropriate permit or licence MUST* be obtained from the PSNI station for each local area in which a house to house collection is to be carried out.
e) In Scotland, the collection will be a licensed one and legal obligations MUST* be met if it is a collection of money (whether given for consideration or not) which is taken in a public place or by means of visits from place to place, but excluding a collection which takes place in the course of a public meeting or by means of an unattended receptacle kept in a fixed position in a public place.
In Scotland, the collection of Direct Debit promises by any means is not currently covered by the licensing rules.
f) In Scotland, unless an exempt promoter, a written application MUST* be made at least one month in advance (or within such other period as the local authority may determine).
g) In Scotland, a licence holder MUST* appoint an independent responsible person or qualified accountant to act as auditor of the collection upon receipt of permission to collect. If the licence holder appoints an agent to act on his behalf, he MUST* exercise due diligence in accordance with the Regulations.
h) Licences MUST* be applied for in good time before the collection is due to take place.
16.4 Exemption Licence Holders (National Exemption Orders, Exemption Orders and Exempt Promoters)
a) Where a Fundraising Organisation has the benefit of a national exemption licence (in England and Wales, a National Exemption Order, in Scotland, an Exempt Promoter, and in Northern Ireland an Exemption Order) for house to house collections it MUST:
- establish a clear annual programme of collections;
- fix specific dates a year in advance for all collections (some fundraising organisations advocate two years) and negotiate any proposed changes to dates with relevant authorities at the earliest opportunity and confirm all changes in writing;
- make every attempt to avoid a conflict in collection dates;
- inform relevant authorities of collection dates and, as far as possible, the specific areas to be covered by the collection;
- confirm all agreed dates in writing to the relevant authorities;
- notify relevant authorities, immediately, of any decisions to cancel a collection;
- where practicable, advise relevant police authorities and all other Exemption Order holders/ Exempt Promoters by letter of agreed collection dates at the earliest opportunity;
- abide by established collection dates;
- ensure that sufficient collectors are available to support an effective collection in order not to deprive other charities of the opportunity to collect;
- be able to provide information on the precise dates and locations of all collections; and
- MUST NOT book large blocks of time.
b) In Scotland, Exempt Promoters MUST observe the above standards, and MUST*:
- give at least 3 months’ notice to the relevant Local Authority of any intended collection which would otherwise have required a licence;
- follow the licensed collection rules which apply to licence holders regarding an organiser’s duties, certificates of authority, how funds are received, and the opening of collections;
- report annually to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), giving an audited account of collections carried out (including a breakdown by local authority area and details of the expenses incurred), a signed organiser’s statement and an auditor’s statement
- publish a notice summarising the audited account of collections in a newspaper with a national Scottish circulation within one month of submission of these records to OSCR.
16.5 Working with Third Parties
a) When working with third parties, Fundraising Organisations MUST have contracts in place except where, in England and Wales and Scotland, commercial participators or professional fundraisers are involved, contracts MUST* be in place.
c) In Northern Ireland, there are currently no specific regulations in place in regard to third parties, but Fundraising Organisations MUST* follow the forms of contracts used elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
e) Where a collector is a paid charity employee, paid officer or paid trustee, the collector MUST* make a statement to the effect they are being paid to carry out the collection.
16.6 Age of Collectors
16.7 Selection and Authorisation of Collectors
b) In England and Wales, for house to house collections, collectors MUST* be given a certificate of authority and badge.
c) In England and Wales, for street collections, each collector MUST* generally have the written authority of the promoter.
- reasonable steps are taken to ensure collectors are fit and proper persons to collect;
- all collectors are at least the minimum age required by that jurisdiction; and
- collectors are aware of their legal obligations.
16.8 Training and Instructions
a) In England and Wales, for house to house collections, the promoter MUST* exercise due diligence to ensure that collectors comply with the House to House Collections Regulations 1947.
b) In Northern Ireland, fundraising organisations MUST* ensure that:
- reasonable steps are taken to ensure collectors are fit and proper persons to collect;
- collectors are given a certificate of authority and badge and collecting boxes or receipt books.
c) Fundraising organisations MUST ensure that all fundraisers/ agents are properly trained to the Institute’s prescribed training standards for face to face fundraising.
16.9 Collection Materials
b) In England and Wales, all printed materials seeking money or goods on behalf of registered charities with incomes over £10,000 MUST* state that the charity is registered.
c) In Scotland, all promotional or other materials used by or behalf of any charity registered with OSCR MUST* (whether the collection is licensed or not, and regardless of the charity’s income) include the charity’s registered name, any other name by which it is commonly known, the fact that it is a charity (if its name does not already include reference to its charitable status) and its registered Scottish charity number.
16.10 Conduct of Collections
a) All collections MUST* be carried out in accordance with the terms of the relevant permit or licence. Collectors MUST* only make approaches in areas and during operating hours set by terms of agreements/licences/permissions (unless a follow up is agreed with an individual).
b) All personal information MUST* be collated and returned to the Fundraising Organisation in a prompt and secure manner as agreed by the Fundraising Organisation and in compliance with Data Protection legislation.
d) In Scotland, the organiser of a collection MUST* record the name and address of each collector as well as the number of collecting envelopes issued to him, or the distinguishing number marked on the collecting box given to each collector.
e) In Scotland, fundraising organisations MUST* also be able to provide full details of all collectors within a given area, including name, address, telephone number, the precise area to be covered and the exact period during which the collector is authorised to collect.
f) In Scotland, fundraisers carrying out a licensed collection MUST NOT* cause annoyance by being insistent or repeatedly pressing an individual to donate and MUST* leave a property (and may not remain in or at the door of a house) if requested to leave by any of the occupants.
g) In cases where the activity is to secure a form of non-financial commitment, but there is a possibility that the Fundraising Organisation will subsequently ask for a financial commitment, collectors MUST inform the individual being engaged during the initial activity of this possibility.
h) Fundraising Organisations MUST be able to provide full details of all those collecting on their behalf within a given area, including name, address, telephone number, the area to be covered and the exact period during which the collector is authorised to collect.
o) Collectors MUST be able to give the public information on how to make a complaint.
r) If a “No Cold Calling Zone” has been created legitimately (i.e. within Trading Standards Institute guidelines), collectors MUST NOT cold call. Find out more about fundraising and Cold Calling Zones.
s) Fundraisers MUST NOT knock on any door of a property that displays a sticker or sign which includes the words ‘No Cold Calling’. For more information see our guidance on no cold calling stickers.
16.11 Handling the Proceeds of a Cash Collection
a) The relevant Institute Standards for handling cash donations MUST be observed and legal requirements MUST* be complied with.
b) Arrangements MUST be made for the receipt of the collection proceeds and all used and unused materials connected with it at a specified point authorised by the organiser of the collection.
16.12 Information to be Provided to the Licensing Authority
a) The promoter of the collection MUST* send any necessary information to the licensing authority within the required period after the collection.
b) Fundraising Organisations MUST have procedures in place to enable accounts to be created within this timescale.
16.13 Collections on Private Property
a) Organisations MUST* have permission from the property owner/manager to collect and MUST* ensure they only collect on times/dates/areas specified.