Soliciting donations from the general public – fundraising

This guidance relates to any appeal to members of the public to give money or other property which is made in association with a representation that the whole or any part of its proceeds is to be applied for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes.

Bailiff’s Permission

Any person or organisation wishing to hold a public charitable collection must have permission to do so from the Bailiff and the Parish in which they plan to hold it. Further information about the procedures to be followed in order to gain permission is available by contacting

Public fund-raising activities source donations from the general public, who are typically “man-in-the-street” donors who may not have access to sufficient information to be discerning about their donation decision. It is therefore good practice to ensure that information provided to donors or to the general public:

  • Is accurate and not misleading;
  • identifies the name of the charity or the person to which the donation will be given;
  • identifies the purpose for which the donation will be used; and
  • ensures adequate control measures are in place and safeguards are appropriate  to ensure proper accountability and to prevent any loss or theft of donations.

All donations, whether collected by a volunteer or commercial fund-raiser should be paid in gross directly to the charity without deducting or setting off any payment or reimbursement of expenditure due to him/her; and any payment due to the commercial fund-raiser from the charity shall be paid separately by the charity.

Where a donor has specified an intention that the donation should be used for any specific lawful purpose, the donation shall be used for that purpose by the charity receiving the donation.

Where no purpose has been specified or communicated, the donation received by the charity may be used by the charity to fund any activity carried out by the charity that meets its purposes under its constitution. A charity may invest any donation that is not immediately required for use for any purpose or activity in such investments as are permitted by law.

A charity, commercial fund-raiser, commercial participator or person soliciting donations from the general public shall maintain accounting records containing entries of:

  • all the donations received and disbursed by it;
  • details of all the income received and the expenses incurred by it.
  • the total amount of donations received during the period to which the financial statements relate.
  • every accounting record for a minimum period of 5 years from the end of the financial year to which the accounting entry relates.

Commercial fund-raisers

If a commercial fund-raiser is used to solicit money or other property from the general public for the benefit of a charitable institution, it is good practice to ensure there is a written agreement with the charitable institution containing details of all the following requirements:

  • location of appeal, date of appeal and fund-raising appeal method;
  • percentage of proceeds to the charitable institution;
  • timeframe within which proceeds must be distributed to the charitable institution; and remuneration of the commercial fund-raiser, commercial participator or person.

Penalties for fraudulent fundraising

Where a person solicits money or other property from the general public in relation to any fund-raising appeal for himself or on behalf of another person (referred to as the beneficiary) with a representation that the person or the beneficiary is a “charity”, “charitable body”, “charitable enterprise”, “charitable organisation” or any of its derivatives when in fact the person or beneficiary is not as represented, the person shall be guilty of an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both.

For the avoidance of doubt, this guidance will not apply to restricted registration charities which, by definition, do not solicit donations from the general public.