Fundraising in a public place

Face to Face Fundraising
Standard Content

This guidance provides an introduction to public fundraising. It looks at how individuals can carry out different forms of fundraising, with links provided to standards and helpful resources.

The most important source of voluntary income for charities comes from donations given by individuals. People give in many different ways, and charities have many different techniques and strategies to inspire individuals to give their support including direct marketing, advertising, and face-to-face fundraising. Donations from individuals can be given as one-off off gifts, regular monthly payments, legacy gifts left in a will, or a major donation.

The range of activities and ways that charities can fundraise with individuals is very varied. The way a charity decides to fundraise will depend on many factors including their size, cause, history, and geographic location – there is no ‘one-size fits all’ answer.

This section provides guidance on how to carry out different forms of fundraising from individuals, with links to regulatory standards and further resources.

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising runs a compliance programme for charities and agencies that carry out public fundraising on the street, door-to-door, by telephone, and on private sites - including mystery shopping activities and an accreditations scheme.


Door to door fundraising

Door to door fundraising

Key considerations

It is important to make sure the correct permissions are in place before carrying out collections. The relevant licensing authority is usually the local authority and/or the police. For more information on the regulations that apply and the standards set for door-to-door fundraising, go to the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Fundraising Practice.

Some charities have National Exemption Orders which are issued by the Cabinet Office and mean they do not need to apply for individual licences to do door-to-door fundraising (although they are required to notify and report on fundraising activity).  


It is important that collectors take steps to try to avoid overlapping with other fundraisers at the same place and time. Charities can check the frequency of collections with local authorities and should consider the impact of too many fundraising campaigns on members of the public and businesses you might be approaching.

Collection materials

There are certain rules around the credentials that must be visible to authenticate fundraisers (otherwise known as collection materials). In England and Wales, collections of both cash and goods have legal requirements around badges and certificates of authority, while in Scotland most of the legal requirements only refer to collections of cash. 

Materials should be dispatched to collectors in good time and include contact details for the fundraising organisation and a third party agency if they are involved. Every collector should be given a collector’s badge and a certificate of authority that specifies the name of the collector, the period of the collection and the specific location in which that collection will take place. It is good practice to include clear contact details for the fundraising organisation on all donation requests. Personnel representing the fundraising organisation and, where possible, their vehicles, should be clearly identifiable as representing the fundraising organisation involved.

Keeping records and handling donations

You should make arrangements to ensure that records are kept of the proceeds collected by each fundraiser and details of the collecting materials returned (e.g. in the case of envelope collections, the number of envelopes containing cash that are returned by each collector and the total amount of money contained therein).

Where collectors are asked to count the proceeds of their collection, they should have written instructions to open the returned envelopes and count the proceeds only in the presence of the promoter or another responsible person who must confirm the proceeds of the collection in writing.

All proceeds from all collectors must be passed to the organiser of the collection together with the collector’s badge, certificate of authority and any unused collection materials as soon as possible. If the proceeds of the collection are not provided within one month of the collection, the charity ought to identify whether or not the collection took place and take appropriate action.

Additional requirements for the collections of goods

It is essential that collection bags/sacks comply with relevant safety standards. Organisations should consider having a warning that these sacks are not toys and could cause suffocation. To aid transparency and understanding, collection bags ought to include a web address where donors can find out more information about the nature of the collection, including details about what happens to the donated goods. 

Recruitment of fundraisers

It is essential that fundraising organisations ensure:

  • Reasonable steps are taken to ensure collectors are fit and proper persons to collect
  • All collectors are 16 years of age or over (In Northern Ireland, youth organisations can have collectors aged 12 or over if approved by DSD)
  • Collectors follow their legal obligation

Effective training of all those engaged in public collections is critical in ensuring that all their activity follows the rules in place and delivers a high standard of fundraising for members of the public. Paid staff of fundraising organisations, including recruiters of volunteers, or third party agencies responsible for organising collections require a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities and clear guidance to ensure they work at all times within current legislation.

Training ought to be undertaken by an informed member of staff on a group or individual basis and be supported by a comprehensive reference manual. It is good practice for all organisers to be advised of any changes to legislation or procedures at the earliest opportunity.

The information given should include:

  • Details of collections legislation relevant to their work
  • A clear definition of their role and the extent of their responsibility and authority
  • How to plan a collection on a geographical basis and as an annual or rolling programme
  • The importance and necessity of appropriate contact with other relevant bodies e.g. other charities, police, local authorities, banks, local press
  • Where appropriate, the recruitment, training, monitoring and payment of others engaged in house-to-house collections, e.g. recruiters
  • Who to approach as potential volunteers and how to approach them, in particular the information and instructions to be given to volunteers
  • Recording of collector details
  • Personalised authorisation certificates and badges to collectors and the arrangements for their return
  • Recording of the collection materials issued to each collector
  • Arrangements for the receipt of income
  • Recording of the receipt of income which should ultimately provide information for statutory returns
  • How to deal with queries from the general public

Training and conduct of fundraisers

It is important that all collectors are aware of and follow their legal responsibilities, and it is preferable to arrange face-to-face meetings with potential collectors. However, it is also advisable for all collectors to receive written instructions as to how to undertake their collection and the procedures to be followed when the collection is complete.

The information given should include:

  • How to conduct the collection
  • A contact name and address and a telephone number in case of queries or emergency
  • The exact area in which the collection is to take place and that they can only collect in that area
  • The specific dates and times the collection is to take place and that they must only collect in that period and no later than 9pm
  • How to use the materials supplied, and emphasis that it is essential they carry a signed and dated Certificate of Authority, wear their signed collector’s badge and only accept sealed envelopes or donations made directly into a sealed collecting tin when collecting money
  • What to do with the items collected
  • Arrangements for the return of all unused materials and badges of authority after the collection

Where collectors intend to have direct contact with the public, they should be given sufficient information on both the work of the fundraising organisation and the collection to enable them to answer reasonable questions from householders or be able to direct them to where they can find out more information.

Conduct of fundraisers

All collectors must carry and display an identity badge and Certificate of Authority. Collectors should be courteous at all times and only collect at the times agreed. Where collection envelopes or sacks are delivered through letterboxes, it is good practice for these to be fully pushed through the letterbox, and every effort should be made to collect unused materials.

It is good practice for collectors to avoid walking on householders’ gardens and ensure gates to properties are closed where appropriate. Finally, fundraisers should only knock the front door or main entrance to a house (usually the entrance closest to, or most directly accessible from, a street), unless directed to do otherwise by a resident.

Face to face fundraising

Introduction to face to face fundraising

Face-to-face fundraising activity enables charities and other voluntary organisations to engage with the public in an effective and compelling way to reach new supporters. It can take place in a public place (such as a shopping high street) as well as private sites (e.g, a supermarket), although there are different processes and procedures to follow for each. It’s also important to be aware of the relevant regulations in different nations – there are different rules in Scotland than in England and Wales.

Organisations will need to apply for a licence (either from the local authority or the police) to cover the fundraising activity. For all face-to-face fundraising activity, all fundraising has to comply with all legislation and regulatory requirements as set out in the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Fundraising Practice.

The Chatered Institute of Fundraising works with many local authorities and Business Improvement Districts to control where and when fundraising can take place within those areas through agreeing Site Management Agreements. Where a Site Management Agreement exists, fundraisers must follow the terms of that agreement. For more information go to Site Management Agreements

The Chartered Institute's Compliance programme also oversees a diary system to manage and facilitate access for public fundraising in a fair and equitable way, as well as running mystery shopping schemes.

What is meant by a public place

England and Wales

A public place means any place where members of the public generally go even if they have no legal right to do so, or any place where they are invited to go. For the purpose of this guidance it should be treated as including such spaces as station forecourts, shopping malls and supermarket car parks. It does not include any place to which members of the public are only permitted if they have made a payment or purchased a ticket as a condition of access; or any place to which members of the public are only permitted for the purposes of the activity in question.

In England and Wales, a public place will be:

  • Any highway
  • Any other place to which, at any time when the appeal is made, members of the public have, or are permitted to have, access (other than on payment or with a ticket and other than by way of permission granted for the specific appeal) and which either is not within a building, or, if within a building, is an area to which the public are generally admitted within any station, airport or shopping precinct or any other similar place


A public place means any place (whether a thoroughfare or not) to which the public have unrestricted access and includes:

  • The doorways or entrances of premises abutting on any such place
  • Any common passage, close, court, stair, garden or yard pertinent to any tenement or group of separately owned houses

Planning face to face fundraising

As well as following all the rules around permission and licensing for public fundraising, before deciding to carry out public fundraising or a face-to-face campaign it’s a good idea to think about: 

  • The length and long-term objectives of the campaign and how it fits in with your overall fundraising strategy
  • What internal resources the organisation can devote to this form of fundraising. A face-to-face campaign requires an investment of time and resources by a charity to ensure it is run effectively, with appropriate materials, planning and preparation, and carried out by fundraisers who are trained to a high standard
  • Partnering with fundraising agencies to carry out face-to-face campaigns. If using a partner agency, charities have to undertake due diligence, agree contracts, and ensure compliance with all rules and regulations
  • Who you will need to work with in your organisation to talk about the activity – for example, face-to-face fundraising can be high-profile and may attract local interest and media attention. You might want to involve trustees, volunteers, media/communications teams or others to get a joined up approach
  • Responding to the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances. If you are fundraising in a public place, you may well come across individuals who are in a vulnerable circumstance. Fundraisers should be aware of issues and trained to be able to respond appropriately to an individual’s situation and needs. 

Conduct of fundraisers

It is important that any and all face-to-face fundraising is carried out to a high standard, that is in line with the values of the organisation, follows all the rules in place, and delivers a good experience for the public.  

Examples of behaviours that are not acceptable for fundraisers:

  • Smoking and/or drinking alcohol in branded clothing
  • Being inappropriately dressed
  • Taking or being under the influence of illegal drugs
  • Lewd or aggressive behaviour
  • Exploiting their position for personal gain (for instance soliciting a job offer, propositioning someone for a date, or seeking a discount on a good or service)
Working with third parties

Working With Third Parties

Often a charity will want to partner with a fundraising agency to carry out public fundraising campaigns or undertake telephone fundraising calls.

Working with a fundraising agency can bring many benefits: they have skilled and experienced fundraisers who can carry out fundraising on your behalf; have local knowledge and insight of areas; and can provide advice and expertise on how to carry out a great fundraising campaign. But there are responsibilities that come with working with agencies. Charities have to undertake due diligence and need to ensure all fundraising carried out in their name is compliant, including providing solicitation statements to donors where required.

Where fundraisers are paid to carry out public fundraising (apart from being employed directly by the charity) it is a legal requirement that they provide a ‘solicitation statement’ to members of the public to make it clear they are being paid, the organisation/agency that is receiving money, and the method by which the fundraiser’s remuneration is to be determined.

Members Only Content