Knowing the rules

What are the rules and how is fundraising regulated?

There is a combination of statutory and industry rules to follow when fundraising and these are set out in full within the Code of Fundraising Practice.

While there are detailed rules to follow for each area of fundraising, it helps to remember that these rules are based on five simple principles. Good fundraising should always be legal, open, honest, respectful and accountable.

Put into practice, this means:


Being clear and truthful

Whether you are raising money for a charity or not, you will need to make it really clear who or what you are fundraising for. Always tell the truth and take care not to exaggerate any facts relating to beneficiaries.


Honouring your promises to supporters

If money is raised for a specific purpose, it has to be used for that purpose. This means that you will need to think carefully about what you will do if you raise more money than expected or if you fail to achieve your fundraising goals. If you think it’s likely that you may exceed your target, you may need to inform donors from the start how any excess funds will be used.


Treating the public fairly and with respect

We believe that fundraising should always be a positive experience; an action that enables the public to engage with and support the causes that really matter to them. So, always treat the public fairly and with respect, and take care never to pressurise anyone into giving, particularly those who may be considered vulnerable.

Read more in our Treating Donors Fairly guidance.


Handling donations safely and securely

Think carefully about how you will handle funds. Safe and secure donation handling is important to protect the organisation from fraud, theft or embezzlement and to assure donors that their donations and gifts are used for the purpose for which they were given. There are specific laws for how to manage public collections, bank transactions and the signatories required to access charity bank accounts. Also, make sure that you carefully consider expenditure, ensuring that fundraising costs are proportionate.

Read more in our Handling of Cash and Other Donations and Acceptance and Refusal of Donations guidance.


Taking responsibility for your fundraising

If you have carefully considered your fundraising decisions, ensured that you have the right approvals internally and acted in line with your organisation’s values and policies, you shouldn’t go too far wrong. Be willing to stand up for your fundraising decisions and, if something does go wrong or a complaint is received, make sure you handle any concerns promptly and sensitively.

Find out more about how fundraising is regulated.