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Charities may wish to supplement their income, or may exist entirely, on the basis of fundraising and public generosity. However there are some rules which apply and can help to protect both the public and the charity, for example against false appeals and some of the more disreputable features of aggressive fundraising.
Charity Commission guidance is a good starting point to help trustees understand their legal obligations.
Plan effectively. Set a fundraising strategy, understand the risks and manage donor relationships.
Supervise your fundraisers and ensure they represent your best interests.
Protect you reputation and assets. Take steps to ensure you receive all the money you are entitled to and reduce the risk of fraud or loss.
Comply with the specific legal rules that can apply to different fundraising activities, e.g. street collections, door-to-door, lotteries and raffles.
Follow the Code of Fundraising Practice.
Be open and accountable, which includes not only reporting fundraising but ensure that the public understands how and why you fundraise and evidencing how you use funds effectively.
Key requirements are that:
There is a signed agreement in place if you use professional fundraisers or work with commercial partners; that is anyone who will use your charity name to sell goods or services as part of making a donation to you.
You are clear what the funds raised can be used for. If an appeal raises insufficient funds, or more than you need, then you may have to return it to the donors or get Charity Commission approval to direct funds to some other purpose.
Data protection rules mean you can't just cold call supporters and ask for money if this hasn't previously been made clear.
By Chris Billington, Partner at Wrigleys Solicitors LLP
Wrigleys Solicitors LLP is a leading specialist law firm advising charities and social enterprises. If you would like to discuss any aspect of fundraising or other issues affecting your charity then please contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of our team on 0113 244 6100. Follow Wrigleys on Twitter @Wrigleys_CSE.