Coronavirus (COVID-19): Fundraising key principles guidance

View any updates made to the page, with the most recent listed first.

12 April 2021: changes made to advice on PPE, enforcement and face coverings, and removal of advice on tiers.

22 December 2020: updated information about self-isolation.

15 October 2020: updated with information on local restrictions.

31 July 2020: updated information about self-isolation.

29 July 2020: updated information on PPE and face coverings, and in relation to safeguarding.

17 July 2020: updated to include information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings.

25 June 2020: first published.

Fundraising key principles

COVID-19 is a public health emergency. Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19, and in particular fundraising organisations should consider the risks to their workers and supporters. As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease and phased approaches start to be introduced for how and when certain ways of working may return across the UK, charities and their partners will be thinking about what it means for fundraising activities that have been paused or stopped. As some fundraising activities resume in the weeks and months ahead it is important that they are carried out sensitively, safely and responsibly. 

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 Government guidance in each UK nation. See guidance from EnglandScotlandWales 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.

We will keep this guidance under review and will update it in line with any changes to Government guidance. 

This guidance highlights the issues you should consider when adapting the way your organisation fundraises as lockdown measures are eased. In particular it provides advice on:

  • how to plan your future fundraising;
  • how to behave and interact safely and respectfully with the public; 
  • how to safeguard the public, staff and volunteers; and
  • undertaking a risk assessment.

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 issues and areas that fundraising organisations need to consider as they plan their return to fundraising. 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 will also include fundraising organisations properly documenting their decisions, undertaking risk assessments, and being prepared to explain and justify these if necessary. 

Getting back to fundraising – planning and risk assessments

Fundraising should only restart when fundraising organisations are satisfied that this can be done safely, in line with this guidance and following relevant Government guidance, and where the risks associated with the activities can be properly managed. Fundraising organisations should consider this guidance, the nature of their activity, the location, their preparation, and undertake a risk assessment to inform decisions.

  • Keep up-to-date and follow Government guidance from the relevant nation, EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland. Restrictions and guidance are likely to change over a period of time. It is therefore important that you keep up-to-date with announcements and apply any new requirements and limitations to your fundraising activities. Be prepared to be flexible and understand arrangements may need to change at short notice. There may be differences in the easing of restrictions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and therefore you will need to make sure your fundraising is carried out in-line with Government guidance in the nation in which your fundraisers are operating. Any guidance issued by any other body, including the Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, can only apply if it is in-line with Government advice for that nation.
  • Carry out risk assessments. It is important that all fundraising organisations carefully consider the risks associated with each type of fundraising activity they carry out. Risk assessments should be properly documented and reviewed regularly, as appropriate. See section 2.2 of the Code of Fundraising Practice for more information and the UK Government’s guidance on Five Steps to Working Safely during coronavirus. Fundraising organisations need to think about the risks staff, volunteers and members of the public will face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risks arising from COVID-19. Employers have a duty to consult their employees, and volunteers including fundraisers, on health and safety, which can be done by talking and listening to them about the work they do and how you will manage any COVID-19 risks. For more information go to Health and Safety Executive and also see relevant guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and the government expects all employers with over 50 workers to do so). We would expect all fundraising organisations to demonstrate to their workers and supporters that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this.
  • It is important that decisions to fundraise are thoroughly considered and carefully evaluated. You don’t have to try and resume fundraising straight away – talk to your teams and fundraising partners about a timetabled approach. Many charities have been, and continue to use, the furlough scheme so you should make sure you take into account the workload of your staff and the resources you have available. It is important that you only restart fundraising at the right time, and in the right way.
  • Ensure proper oversight of decision making. All fundraising organisations must weigh up the benefits and risks of their ongoing fundraising activities and exercise judgement when deciding what is in the best interests of the public, supporters, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. It is important to have appropriate management and oversight of all decisions that are made, and ensure that these are properly documented. Trustees are crucial in ensuring proper oversight of fundraising decisions as they have ultimate responsibility for charities’ fundraising. 
  • Co-operate effectively with third parties. If you work with third parties, it is important that you are clear about your expectations in relation to fundraising conduct and the approach that should be taken as lockdown measures are eased. You must also check or update any contracts that you have in place to make sure these remain fit for purpose as your fundraising activities adapt. 
  • Be transparent with the public and others. You should make information available and be able to explain to the public and others your approach to fundraising safely and responsibly as the restrictions lift. You should set out the measures you are taking and how these align with Government advice for the nation in which you fundraise.
  • Listen to feedback. Fundraising organisations should listen and reflect on feedback they receive from the public, staff and volunteers as this will help to inform the way they carry out fundraising during this period. Your activity should be continually reviewed, taking into account comments, complaints and feedback. 

Safeguarding the public and fundraisers

  • Protect the public, staff and volunteers. Sufficient measures must be in place to protect the public, your fundraisers, staff and volunteers. Depending on the method of fundraising, you’ll need to consider what changing Government guidance means for staff and volunteer safety. This includes ensuring that fundraisers take appropriate measures to keep them and the public safe and ensure social distancing is observed. You can read more guidance from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to ensure their employees can work safely and follow COVID-19 secure guidelines.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings. You should follow guidance on face coverings and PPE for the nation in which you are fundraising. You can find guidance for England, ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.
  • Make sure that any fundraiser, member of staff, or volunteer self-isolates for 10 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19, have received a positive test result, or have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia (a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste and smell) – however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19 you must self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken. If you have tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, you must restart the 10 day isolation period from the day you develop symptoms. If you have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive, you must also self-isolate for 10 days. See guidance from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Train fundraisers on new approaches before restarting fundraising. New ways of working will need some time to be communicated, with appropriate training materials and resources produced to help guide fundraisers on what they should be doing. Any training should be delivered virtually, in order to meet Government guidelines. It is important that fundraisers feel confident and reassured before going back out to fundraise – if you work with a fundraising agency or partner, talk to them about their approach and agree appropriate measures and training. 
  • Take into account the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances or with protected characteristics. It is inevitable that fundraisers will come into contact with people who may be in a vulnerable circumstance, or need additional support to make an informed decision. The pandemic may have increased the number of people who are vulnerable and the crisis has had an impact on the nation’s mental health. You must take into account the needs of anyone who may be in vulnerable circumstances, including people who may be at higher risk from COVID-19. You should also consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired. You may want to consider reviewing any existing policies on vulnerable circumstances your organisation has, to ensure adequate safeguarding of the public. See section 1.3 of the Code of Fundraising Practice for more information. 

Enforcement

  • Enforcing authorities such as the HSE or local authorities have the power to take action against employers who are not complying with relevant public health legislation and guidance. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to two years.

Respectful interaction with the public

  • Do not apply undue pressure to donors. As the services provided by charities come under increasing demand, public donations are more important than ever to enable charities to meet those demands. Although you can talk about your cause and why a donation matters to your charity, this needs to be in-line with the Code of Fundraising Practice (see section 1.2). You must not apply undue pressure (for example, intrude on their privacy or to press ahead with a fundraising ask if they have already said ‘no’). See standard 1.1.3 of the code for more information.
  • Be polite and respectful. You must remain polite and respectful at all times. This is particularly important now as people’s daily lives have changed so dramatically and there is heightened concern around personal and financial wellbeing. See section 1.1 of the code for more information.
  • Be mindful of how the public may respond to your fundraising. Although the public continues to be hugely supportive of charities during the pandemic, do not assume that all individuals will want to donate or engage with you in the same way as they did before. Many people will want to give and are keen to donate, others will be experiencing financial difficulties, anxiety or grief. It is impossible to know every individual’s situation, but you should consider the range of likely responses and ensure that your fundraisers can and are actively responding appropriately to the signals and needs of any individual. You should be ready and willing to explain openly and clearly why you are fundraising, and the steps you have taken to ensure it is being done responsibly. 

Test and Trace

In England, there is a legal requirement for venues and premises to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff.

The rules on what you need to do when a group enters your venue have changed. 

You must ask every customer or visitor to scan the NHS QR code using their NHS COVID-19 app or provide their name and contact details, not just a lead member of the group. This is to ensure everyone receives the necessary public health advice in a timely manner.

Hospitality facilities (including restaurants, cafes or bars within other types of venue) are legally required to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide their contact details.

If this applies to your facility, you need to keep these records for 21 days and make them available when requested by NHS Test and Trace or local public health officials, to help contain clusters or outbreaks. 

You must also display an official NHS QR code poster so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details.

This is a legal requirement and failure to comply is punishable by fines.

You can find more information in the guidance on NHS Test and Trace.

What you must do:

  1. Ask every customer or visitor to provide their name and contact details
  1. Keep a record of all staff working on your premises and shift times on a given day, and their contact details. 
  1. Keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS Test and Trace if requested. 
  1. Display an official NHS QR code poster, so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this option, as an alternative to providing their contact details. However, you must still have a system to collect (and securely store) names and contact details for those who do not have access to a smartphone. 
  1. Ensure you manage this information in line with data protection regulations.

You can find out more about these requirements in the guidance on NHS Test and Trace.

PCR Tests

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests can be taken in two ways:

1. An assisted test is where the person takes the test themselves under the supervision of a trained operator, and this operator processes the test, reads and reports the result.

2. A home (self-reported) test is where a person takes the test by themselves and reads and reports their own result.

If your assisted LFD test result is positive

If your Lateral Flow Test (LFT) was an assisted test, you must self-isolate immediately. You could be fined if you do not do this. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to self-isolate. 

You should also take a follow-up PCR test as soon as possible. If you fail to take one within the next 2 days, you and your contacts may need to isolate for the full 10 days whatever the follow-up result.

Whilst waiting for your follow-up PCR test result you and your household members should follow this guidance. If you take the PCR test within 2 days of the LFT and receive a negative result, you and your household can stop self-isolating. However, you and your household must continue to self-isolate if:

  • this PCR test result is positive;
  • you choose not to take a follow-up PCR test; or
  • you receive a negative PCR test result but the test was taken more than two days after the LFT.

It is important to book your follow-up PCR test as soon as you can following your positive LFT result.

If your home (self-reported) LFD test result is positive

If your LFT was taken at home (self-reported), you should self-isolate immediately. You and your household members should follow all this guidance. You should also take a follow-up PCR test as soon as possible. If the follow-up PCR test result is negative, you and your household contacts can stop self-isolating.