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Public collections and exempt promoters

Published: 21/02/2018
Updated: 19/04/2021


In this section we explain two aspects of fundraising in public:

  • Public charitable collections

A public charitable collection is a collection of money from the public for charitable purposes in public or house-to-house.

Please note that at the current time collections of direct debits, standing orders and other promises of money are not included as part of the licensing regime in Scotland.

  • Exempt promoters

Anyone organising collections over the whole or a substantial part of Scotland may apply to OSCR to be an exempt promoter.


Both the public charitable collections and exempt promoter’s rules come under different laws than the rest of the points in this guidance. OSCR does not oversee these laws.


Public charitable collections

Public charitable collections are a fundraising method that is the subject of specific regulations administered by local authorities.

What is a public charitable collection?
A public charitable collection is a collection of money from the public for charitable purposes taken either in a public place, like a street collection, or by house-to-house collections.

In this case ‘charitable purposes’ are not just those set out under the 2005 Act which OSCR regulates, they have a wider meaning and include any charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes.

The Fundraising Regulator holds the Rulebooks for face to face fundraising.

The need for permission
Anyone who wants to hold a public charitable collection must have permission from the local authority in which they plan to hold it. If you don’t have the right permissions, you could face a fine.

Contact the local authority for information about how to apply, most have forms for public charitable collections on their website, or search on GOV.UK licence finder for contact details.

Detailed requirements
Public charitable collections come under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. All organisers of public charitable collections should familiarise themselves with the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984, which provides the rules for  the duties of organisers, collectors, the opening of collecting boxes and envelopes and accounting requirements in respect of public charitable collections. Organisers and collectors who breach the regulations can be fined if convicted.

For additional information on public charitable collections, visit the Institute of Fundraising's website.

The Exempt Promoter Scheme

The Exempt Promoter scheme comes under the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984 and 1988.

Some larger charities that organise regional or national collections in Scotland can apply to OSCR to register as ‘exempt promoters’. The benefit of being an exempt promoter is that it reduces the administrative burden on the organiser (‘promoter’) of having to co-ordinate with many local authorities throughout Scotland when organising a public charitable collection.

An exempt promoter does not have to have permission from the local authority to hold a collection, but they must give the local authority at least three months’ notice of their intention to hold a collection and must follow the other requirements in the regulations. 

An exempt promoter is an individual not an organisation. Usually exempt promoters are employees of specific charities using their exemption for collections organised by that charity. The list of Exempt Promoters is available on OSCR’s website.

Applying to be an Exempt Promoter
If you wish to apply to be an exempt promoter, or to have an exempt promoter in your organisation, please contact us at

If you want to be an exempt promoter, you must provide OSCR with evidence that you have:

  • Collected over a wide area of Scotland (at least 15 local authority areas) over each of the three financial years preceding the date of application
  • Collected a reasonable sum in each area in each year
  • Incurred expenses in organising the public collections of not more than 30% of the total collected.

In addition, you must submit the three most recent annual reports and accounts of the organisation and copies of any agreements relating to public charitable collections in Scotland that the organisation has with a third party professional fundraiser.

If approved we will issue a formal Direction which brings the exemption into force.

Reporting requirements
To retain the status, exempt promoters must submit the following information every year to OSCR:

  • An audited account of the public charitable collections carried out
  • A breakdown by local authority area of the amounts collected and expenses incurred
  • A signed Organiser’s Statement[1]
  • A signed Auditor’s Statement[2]
  • A copy of a notice summarising the audited collection account published in a newspaper with national Scottish circulation. The notice must be published within one month of submission to OSCR of the audited collection accounts and local authority breakdown.

OSCR will check all the information and let the exempt promoter know if the exemption is continued.

[1]The wording to be used is set out in the Schedule to the 1984 Regulations  

[2]The wording to be used is set out in the Schedule to the 1984 Regulations

The current legislation for public charitable collections and exempt promoters as contained in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984 and 1988 remains in force: