Please click here to read OSCR’s COVID-19 Guidance for Charities

8. Restarting Fundraising

Published: 30/03/2020
Updated: 05/05/2021

One of the ways of supporting people at this time of ongoing crisis is to give funds. At all times it is important to try to make sure that you are contributing to a legitimate organisation.  One of the ways of doing this is by giving to established charities.  You can check they are charities by looking at the Scottish Charity Register.

Restarting fundraising

One of the key impacts of COVID-19 on charities has been on the way in which it has affected certain types of fundraising activity.  In our most recent surveys, over 50% of charities reported that their fundraising had been negatively affected by COVID-19 and the associated restrictions.  As restrictions begin to ease in Scotland, it will be a priority for many charities to look at how they can restart these fundraising activities.  If you are one of these charities, the following short guidance has been written for you.

Charity trustee duties

All charity trustees need to take into account their legal duties when they are making decisions about returning to fundraising activities.    

Charity trustees are required by law to act in the interests of the charity. This means that you must make sure any fundraising carried out by, or on behalf of, your charity complies with all relevant laws and does not put the charity or its reputation at unnecessary risk.

A key duty is to act with ‘care and diligence’.  This means that when you are dealing with the charity’s affairs, you should do so as carefully as you would if you were looking after someone else’s affairs other than your own.  In other words, it implies a higher level of care.

If you are unsure about charity trustee duties, these are set out in more detail in our ‘Guidance and good practice for Charity Trustees’ which you can find on our website.  We have additional fundraising guidance here and the Institute of Fundraising have produced some COVID-19 guidance in conjunction with the Fundraising regulator which you can find here.

Ten things to think about

  1. Make sure you understand the most recent Scottish Government guidance. It is updated frequently, and it is important you understand any of the guidance that relates to your area of fundraising. 
  2. Assess your risk. It is important to consider the risks that might be associated with your proposed fundraising activity.  It is also important that these considerations are written down, so that you can review them as necessary.  You need to consider the risks posed to staff, volunteers and members of the public, and understand what you can do to minimise these. Here is a link to a template from the Health and Safety Executive that might be helpful.
  3. Take into account reputational risk. This last year has been tricky for charities, and therefore the trust of the public is more important than ever in terms of the health of charities going forwards.  While physical risks are important, you also need to make sure that you understand how any activities might impact on your reputation. 
  4. Make sure you have the appropriate permits for collecting money. You must have the appropriate license for public fundraising, including house to house collections.  You can find your appropriate contact here.
  5. Record your decision-making. Make sure you clearly record your decision making in terms of what you have decided to do and why you have decided to do it. 
  6. Be transparent with the public and others. Make sure you can communicate clearly about the approach you are taking, and how it fits in with government guidelines.
  7. Listen to feedback coming from the public and supporters. Even though you are sticking to guidelines, there may be changes that might make people feel safer and more supported and ultimately make your fundraising efforts more successful.
  8. Think about how you can avoid or minimise the need to handle cash. Can you use collecting boxes that offer a contactless card payment options?  Perhaps you could use a tablet on a stand that can be cleaned before and after each use?
  9. Display your charity number clearly. This is a legal requirement and will let the public know that you are a charity.  Remember, for online fundraising you can use your registration logo which allows people to easily link back to your register entry.
  10. If you are getting others to fundraise for you, make sure you have an appropriate fundraising agreement in place. This is one of the specific duties outline in the 2005 Act.