2.0 Working with Volunteers

KEY: *denotes legal requirement


2.1 Legal References for this Section


2.2 Volunteers

2.2.1 Introduction Definitions and Types of Volunteers

For the purposes of this Code, a volunteer fundraiser is someone who, without payment or other material benefit (excluding reimbursement of expenses), raises money or engages in a fundraising activity for a fundraising organisation or other philanthropic or benevolent institution. Distinguishing ‘on Behalf of’ and ‘in Aid of’ Volunteers

There are two distinct categories of volunteers:

1) On behalf of:

If a volunteer is ‘on behalf of’, they will have been appointed by the organisation to act on its behalf and the organisation will be responsible for his or her acts. An 'on behalf of' relationship offers volunteers more support from the organisation. From the organisation’s perspective, it offers the organisation more control over a volunteer’s activities but the organisation also then becomes responsible for acts carried out by the volunteer as an agent of the organisation.

2) In aid of:

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. This will give volunteer fundraisers control over, and complete responsibility for the fundraising activity. Although the organisation therefore has less control, if fundraising methods are used of which the charity disapproves, action can be taken to prevent the fundraising.

The more interaction and involvement with ‘in aid of’ fundraisers, the more likely the relationship could be seen as ‘on behalf of’.

a) Organisations MUST ensure that the information and support which is provided to volunteers is appropriate for the type of relationship that exists. When is a 'Volunteer' not a Volunteer?

a) Some “volunteers” may be fundraising in order to raise their profile and/or to attract customers by associating themselves or their brand with the organisation. If the “volunteer” arrangement falls within the definition of professional fundraiser or commercial participator, there are legal obligations which MUST* be complied with. 


2.2.2 Issues Related to All Types of Volunteers Initial Considerations

a) Organisations MUST store volunteers’ personal contact information and this storage MUST* comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.

b) Organisations MUST* comply with legal duties concerning the use of Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)Disclosure Scotland or Access NI checks.

c) Organisations MUST NOT discriminate on grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, disability, pregnancy or maternity, or gender reassignment when recruiting and managing volunteer fundraisers unless there are sound ethical or necessary reasons for doing so.

d) Volunteers MUST have only their out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed. Handling of Funds Raised

a) Organisations MUST make it clear to all volunteers that anyone raising money MUST* ensure that the organisation receives all that money.


2.2.3 Specific Considerations when Working with ‘on Behalf of’ Volunteers

a) There is a range of legal obligations placed on organisations in respect of health and safety, some of which apply to volunteers. The key obligations are:

i. Organisations MUST* conduct their organisation in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that volunteer fundraisers are not exposed to risks to their health and safety (the specific obligations are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 or, on Northern Ireland, the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978).

ii. Organisations MUST* carry out appropriate risk assessments and (if there are over 5 employees) MUST* keep clear records of all risk assessments and training undertaken.

iii. Organisations MUST* make and give effect to appropriate arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures.

iv. Organisations MUST* audit the adequacy of their risk assessment procedures.

v. Organisations MUST* appoint one or more competent person(s) to implement the measures needed to comply with health and safety law.

b) Where appropriate, organisations MUST check the suitability and credentials of volunteer fundraisers to act as responsible people on the organisation's behalf and in the case of house to house collections MUST* carry out due diligence to check if collectors are fit and proper persons.

c) Organisations MUST provide such training and support as may be needed to enable volunteer fundraisers to effectively carry out their role in a legal, open, honest and respectful manner.


2.2.4 Specific Considerations when Working with ‘in Aid of’ Volunteers

When discussing ‘in aid of’ relationships, all standards apply only where the organisation has been made aware of the fundraising activity in advance of its occurrence.

a) Organisations MUST make it clear that any arrangement where fundraising is undertaken independently of the organisation is ‘in aid of’ and that the organisation will not accept any responsibility or liability for these events.


There is more information about working with volunteers in the Volunteer Fundraising Guidance