As a charity, CIC or not-for-profit organisation, successful fundraising is your lifeblood. You deeply rely on it and cannot afford any problems with your fundraising activities or events.
Knowing the applicable charity laws governing your fundraising activities and the associated risks is the best way to ensure that your efforts will generate funds to keep your organisation thriving.
Failure to follow the correct rules or procedures can result in fines or civil claims. Trustees can also be held responsible for the activities of your charity, as such, is it always advisable to purchase suitable trustees indemnity under your charity insurance policy.
What Are The Regulations for Fundraising?
Charity laws differ based on where your charity is located and what activities you are planning.
For example, if you want to go door-to-door in England and Wales to raise money for your charity, you must obtain a public collections certificate and notify the area’s local authority.
More information on laws and guidance for specific fundraising activities can be found at: http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/home
Regardless of fundraising methods, there are laws and guidance every not-for-profit, CIC or Charity organisation must follow. According to the Charity Commission, your organisation must do the following for all fundraising activities:
- Keep money raised for an appeal separate from the general funds of the charity.
- State that you are a registered charity on any fundraising materials, such as adverts and websites (this only applies if you are registered and your income exceeds £10,000).
- Report and comment each year on your fundraising activities (this only applies if you have a gross income of £500,000 and an audit is required).
Because regulations differ depending on your location, perform your due diligence to be sure you have the appropriate certificates or permission for your activity.
Transparency Is Key
You also want to be clear and transparent about your collections to let the public know their donations are being used honestly by your organisation—you do not want the public to feel misled by your fundraising.
For example, if you are fundraising to build a new playground in a public park, you need to announce what the charity will do if you do not raise enough money or if you raise too much.
State upfront how you will add extra or insufficient money to your organisation’s general funds.
This will answer any questions the public may have, help avoid any confusion and inspire trust in your organisation’s fundraising as well as avoid potential misappropriation challenges against the organisation.
How to Collect Funds Safely
Before you begin to collect donations and funds, whether publicly or privately, you should determine the scope of your fundraising activity so you stay focused and know when you have achieved your goal.
#1 Successful Planning
A goal without a plan is planning to fail – as such a clear written plan of attack is the simplest route to fundraising success:
- Your financial goal – Are you fundraising to purchase a particular thing or is there a minimum amount of money that you need for operational costs?
- Your timeline – Do you need the funds for a specific purpose at a certain time?
- Who will be involved – Will you recruit volunteers, hire professionals or do the fundraising yourself?
- Your purpose – Do you want to raise funds or awareness?
#2 Handling Money Safely
Whether you are holding a silent auction at a facility or collecting funds door-to-door, keeping the money and the people collecting it safe should be a central priority. Follow these guidelines to ensure workers and volunteers are handling money correctly:
- Obtain any necessary licences, certificates or permissions before collecting money from the public.
- Regularly open all collection boxes and count the contents.
- Have at least two people involved in handling and recording the money.
- Find a secure place to collect, count and store the money.
- Bank all the cash you collect as soon as possible and without deducting expenses.
Risk Assessments Are Critical
When planning any type of fundraising activity, you should perform a risk assessment to map out potential risks and also help you prevent those risks from turning into serious liabilities for your organisation.
You want your activity to go smoothly—a risk assessment can help you ensure that it does.
Create a list of any potential problems that could arise during your fundraising effort. Prioritising the risks from high to low can help you focus on the more serious potential losses. Common fundraising risks and ways to manage them include:
#1 Slips, trips and falls
Organisation members or guests could slip on a wet floor at an event or trip on the street when going door-to-door.
During an event, keep the ground clear of tripping hazards and clean up spills as soon as possible. When doing public collections, walk on marked paths and in well-lit areas.
#2 Working at height
Workers or volunteers could fall off a ladder changing a light bulb or putting up decorations for an event. Be sure ladders are in good condition and that anyone on a ladder has a spotter, if needed.
You may need workers or volunteers to drive in order to deliver goods or attend an event. Require anyone driving for your organisation to have a current driving licence, a safe vehicle and a good driving record.
#4 Food and drink
If you are serving or selling food or drinks at an event, follow safe food handling and preparation guidelines.
If you are planning on serving alcohol, you may need a licence. Ensure that your organisation possesses the necessary permits to serve food, and that it minimises its product liability with risk management and insurance solutions.
Your activity may have other unique risks such as working with children, the elderly or holding a specialist event. If so, your risk assessment will be quite detailed, but successful planning and risk management will ensure that the threat of loss is minimised and reduce your susceptibility to claims under your CIC Insurance or Charity Insurance policy.
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