Fundraising collections are a common method of raising money for charity, particularly amongst volunteers. They can be particularly effective because they:
- offer a positive opportunity for the general public to participate actively in supporting fundraising organisations within their own community;
- enable supporters to raise funds for all sorts of fundraising organisations in an ethical and secure manner; and
- provide an important mechanism for information exchange between fundraising organisations and their donors.
There are many different forms of charitable collections, and all have different rules associated with them. Some of the most common are:
- Street collections - If you are holding a collection in the street, you will need to obtain a licence, either from your local authority, or if in greater London, the Metropolitan Police.
- Private collections - If your collection is still open to the public, but being held on private property such as within a shopping centre or rail station, you must obtain permission from the landowner or manager.
- Static collection boxes - Boxes must be secure and tamper proof. You do not need a licence to place these in a shop or business, just permission from the business owner.
- House-to-house collections - Licences must be obtained from the relevant local authority or Metropolitain Police.
Before organising your collection, contact the fundraising organisation that you wish to support as they may be able to help and provide information.
Collectors in public places (on the street or house-to-house) generally require permission from the local authority or, if within its district, from the Metropolitan Police. Some charities hold exemption certificates for public collections which means they do not need to obtain a licence for public collections. A list of exemption holders is available on the Cabinet Office website.
If your chosen charity is listed, contact the charity directly for further details about the exemption and procedures that must be followed.
If collections are taking place on private land, such as in a shop, permission needs to be sought from the owner or the individual who is responsible for the premises. In addition, if collecting from pub-to-pub, a licence will be required from the local authority in addition to obtaining permission from the pub land lord.
The Charities Act 2006 in England and Wales and the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 in Scotland proposed a number of changes to public charitable collections. These changes have not been inacted yet, however, it would be wise to be aware of what these changes could mean for your charity. A summary of the changes in England and Wales are detailed in the section In more detail: public charitable collections (H6) of the Charity Commission and Cabinet Office What Trustees Need to Know publication.
It is important that you have secure collection buckets and tins. As with all fundraising activities, contact the organisation that you wish to fundraise for as they may be able to supply you with suitable collection materials and/or additional guidance.
While regulations do not directly state that you cannot 'rattle your tin', the Metropolotan Police's guidance states that:
No collection shall be in such a manner as to cause, or be likely to cause, danger, obstruction, inconvenience or annoyance to any person.
Remember to check the conditions of any licence as they may have additional stipulations.
When collecting in public, you will generally need identity badges that contain details of your licence or exemption.
Code of Fundraising Practice and Guidance
The Handling of Cash and Other Financial Donations section of the Code and guidance offers best practice and legal guidance on the handling, receiving and counting of money donated to your organisation.
- Read the Handling of Cash and Other Financial Donations Code of Fundraising Practice section of the Code.
- Read the Handling of Cash and Other Financial Donations guidance.
If collections are being undertaken using a static collection point in a shop or public building, The Management of Static Collection Points section of the Code and guidance should be considered.
- Read the Management of Static Collections section of the Code.
- Read the Management of Static Collections guidance.
For collections in Scotland, see the Scottish Charity Law in Relation to Fundraising and Public Charitable Collections guidance.
- Read the Scottish Charity Law in Relation to Fundraising and Public Charitable Collections guidance.
Other Institute Resources
The Institute of Fundraising has produced the following information briefings which offer a basic introduction to fundraising collections: