Coronavirus (COVID-19): Cash collections guidance

This guidance is part of a series of resources produced by the Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising that aims to support charities and other fundraising organisations to be able to return to fundraising activities in a responsible way. By responsible fundraising we mean fundraising that is carried out in a sensitive and safe way, in-line with the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) and the advice in each UK nation. See guidance from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Requirements may also differ across the UK. You should always check the relevant guidance for the area in which you are fundraising and apply it to your fundraising activity, especially as guidance is likely to evolve over time. 

Before reading this guidance, read our over-arching COVID-19 guidance which includes what you should consider when adapting the way your organisation fundraises.

Status of this guidance

This guidance sets out a framework to aid good decision making and ensure responsible fundraising. It is intended to supplement existing government guidance and highlights the key areas that fundraising organisations need to consider as they plan their fundraising activities. In any instance where there is a contradiction between this guidance and government guidance, government guidance takes precedence. It is the responsibility of individual organisations to apply this guidance in their fundraising activity so that the safety and wellbeing of fundraisers and the public are protected. Part of acting responsibly also includes fundraising organisations undertaking risk assessments, documenting their decisions and being prepared to explain these if necessary.

Fundraising organisations should consider this guidance, the nature of their activity, the location, their preparation, and undertake a risk assessment to inform decisions.

Cash donations: principles and key considerations 

Fundraising must be carried out responsibly and the health, safety and wellbeing of the public, fundraisers and volunteers must come first. Fundraising activities should only be carried out when organisations are satisfied that this can be done safely, in-line with Government advice and where the risks associated with the activities can be properly managed. 

This guidance covers fundraising that involves the collection and handling of cash donations. Cash donations might be collected through collecting buckets and boxes in public places, which are held or overseen by staff or volunteers. Cash collections also involve static collecting boxes that remain in one place: either on the floor or on counters in places such as shops, pubs, hotels, hospitals and reception areas. Please see the Code of Fundraising Practice for more details, specifically section 4 and section 8.  

Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus gives a useful summary of the main steps to working safely and there is specific guidance to follow for working in outdoor environments. For more information go to Health and Safety Executive and also see relevant guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Review and adapt your processes. To adhere to social distancing guidance and good hygiene practices, you should review how you collect, handle and process cash donations. You will need to adapt your processes so that you can comply with the code while ensuring the safety of staff and volunteers as well as compliance with all government guidance. Any solutions need to meet the standards set out in section 4 and section 8 of the code. 

  • You should consider if and when alternative donation methods can be used to avoid or minimise the need to handle and process cash, such as collecting boxes that offer a contactless card payment option or using a tablet that is on a stand, ensuring that you clean it before and after each use. 
  • After handling and counting cash donations you need to ensure good hygiene practices are followed, such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after handling cash donations or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Sealed containers should be sanitised where possible or left for 72 hours before being emptied. Hand hygiene should be applied after handling cash.
  • Staff and volunteers should clean and sanitise cash donation collecting boxes before and after being handled. 
  • You must continue to make sure that all cash you have collected is counted and recorded by two unrelated people, wherever possible. 
  • For collections on private land, if it is not practical for you to open and count collecting boxes, you must have effective procedures and instructions for the person who owns or manages the site to count, record and bank or deliver the money in the boxes. 

Keep up good hygiene practices. Cleaning practices and hand hygiene are important in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Government advice is that you should wash your hands as often as practically possible and use hand sanitiser frequently. Make sure you reinforce hand hygiene and provide hand sanitiser for fundraisers and volunteers to use whenever they come into contact with an object or have to touch something (such as a collecting box or cash) which others may have touched. Restrict the use of shared equipment wherever possible, and if it must be shared make sure it is frequently cleaned, especially between uses.

Maintain social distancing. You must fundraise in accordance with Government guidance on social distancing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You must also fundraise in accordance with any local restrictions that might apply. You should be aware that Government guidance on social distancing could change over time and you will need to keep up-to-date with any changes and respond appropriately. 

If there are certain places where social distancing cannot be maintained, you should not fundraise in those locations. You should also bear in mind that the public might expect to maintain social distancing even if restrictions lift. You should implement social distancing measures in the following ways:

  • Keep a minimum distance. You should maintain the appropriate social distance from members of the public and between yourself and other fundraisers or volunteers. For example, if your cash collections involve having a stand in a public place then consider using markings or materials that clearly set out the appropriate distance that people should be. Messages on clothing or signage about social distancing should also be considered. The behaviour of the public may be difficult to predict, and in the event that a member of the public is not maintaining social distancing then it is the responsibility of the fundraiser or volunteer to act quickly and ensure a proper distance is maintained. 
  • Give way to the public. Fundraisers must never cause any physical obstruction to the public (see standard 8.1.2 in the code). If any setting does not enable the fundraiser or volunteer to give way to the public and maintain social distancing throughout, then fundraising should not take place in that setting.
  • Review methods for exchanging items. If your cash collections also involve an exchange of items, such as printed materials or a ‘thank you’ (for example, a badge or sticker), this should be done in a way that is safe. Where items are offered in exchange for support, only do this where it can be collected from an appropriate distance and with hygiene measures in place (for example, through the availability of hand sanitiser). Preference should be given to providing any item at a later date, by post, or electronically.

Make sure your behaviour is respectful. Whether you are collecting cash donations on public or private sites, you need to be sensitive to the communities you are likely to come into contact with. You should expect that at this time some members of the public may be more anxious than usual about interacting with others. Check that an individual is happy to talk with you and be respectful about personal space while maintaining social distancing. You should be mindful of how your interaction can affect others in a public space, so it’s important to be aware of others around you and the space you are in. You should be particularly mindful that an increased number of individuals may be experiencing financial hardship, anxiety or grief, so be responsive to any signs that they are in distress or do not want to continue a conversation. You can find more information on behaviours and general fundraising principles in our guidance here

Train fundraisers and volunteers on new approaches. New ways of working will need some time to be communicated, with appropriate training materials and resources produced to guide fundraisers and volunteers on what they should be doing. It’s important that fundraisers and volunteers feel confident and reassured before fundraising with the public – if you work with a fundraising agency or partner, talk to them about their approach and agree appropriate measures and training. 

Check that the right licences and permissions remain valid. The law on collecting money or other property varies according to the type and location of the collection. In most cases, for collections on public land you will need a licence or permission to collect from the relevant local authority (or in Northern Ireland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland). On private land you will need permission from the person responsible for the site. If you have an existing license, contact the licence holder that granted you permission and ask if there are any changes or additions to the terms and conditions you need to comply with. For further standards on licences and permissions, see section 8.2 of the code. 

Make sure ID badges and mandatory information is accessible. You must make sure you meet the requirements in the code related to wearing an ID badge (see section 8 of the code). Due to social distancing measures, information on the ID badge may be difficult for the public to read, so you should ensure the public can see or access this information in other ways. Other mandatory information that you require an individual to read before donating should be made accessible and in-line with social distancing measures.