1.Behaviour when fundraising

In this section, ‘you’ means a charitable institution or third-party fundraiser.

1.1.General behaviour


Your fundraising must be legal and must be open, honest and respectful.


You must be polite to people at all times.


You must not unfairly criticise or insult other people or organisations.


You must not encourage a donor to cancel or change an existing donation in favour of a donation to another charitable institution.

1.2.Asking for support


While reasonable persuasion is allowed, you must not fundraise in a way which is an unreasonable intrusion on a person’s privacy, is unreasonably persistent or places undue pressure on a person to donate.


You must not continue to ask a person for support if that person clearly indicates – by word or gesture – that they do not want to continue to speak to you. You must end the conversation in a polite way.

1.3.Informing donors and treating people fairly


You and the fundraising materials you use must not mislead anyone, or be likely to mislead anyone, either by leaving out information or by being inaccurate or ambiguous or by exaggerating details.


Before you make any direct or implied claim in your fundraising which is likely to be taken literally, you must make sure that there is evidence to prove the claim.


You must not take advantage of mistakes made by a donor.


When talking about finances and financial benefits, you must tell donors that you are not in a position to offer formal financial advice.


Your fundraising must meet equality law as it applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You must not discriminate against people with characteristics protected under the law of these countries. You can get more information from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.


You must take all reasonable steps to treat a donor fairly, so that they can make an informed decision about any donation.


You must take into account the needs of any possible donor who may be in vulnerable circumstances or need extra care and support to make an informed decision.


You must not exploit the trust, lack of knowledge, apparent need for care and support or vulnerable circumstance of any donor at any time.


You must not take a donation if you know, or have good reason to believe, that a person lacks capacity to make a decision to donate, or is in vulnerable circumstances which mean they may not be able to make an informed decision. Among other things, you should consider:

  • any physical or mental-health condition the person may have; 
  • any disability the person may have; 
  • any learning difficulties the person may have;
  • whether the person is facing times of stress or anxiety (for example, following the death of a loved one or redundancy); 
  • whether a donation is likely to affect the person’s ability to sufficiently care for themselves or leave them in financial hardship;
  • how well the person can communicate and understand what they are being told;
  • whether the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
  • the person’s age.

If a donor makes a donation while they do not have the capacity to make an informed decision, you must return the money to them.


You must take all reasonable steps to avoid asking for regular donations (for example, by direct debit) from anyone aged under 18. Young people aged between 16 and 18 can take part in charity lotteries, but if you receive money for a lottery from a child or young person aged under 16 you must return the money.

For more standards on fundraising that involves children (in particular, age limits and data protection), see section 6 Fundraising involving children.

Further guidance
  • Chartered Institute of Fundraising: Treating Donors Fairly for guidance on people in vulnerable circumstances