Coronavirus (COVID-19): Public fundraising guidance - Withdrawn Feb 2022

The information in this page is intended to support fundraising in UK nations where formal and legal Government restrictions, such as social distancing, are in place. This guidance has been superseded by our supporting safe and responsible fundraising guidance.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.

15 October 2020: updated with information on local restrictions.

29 July 2020: updated information on PPE and face coverings.

22 July 2020: updated information about public transport.

17 July 2020: updated to replace information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings.

25 June 2020: first published.

Public fundraising 

This guidance is part of a series of resources produced by the Fundraising Regulator and 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 that fundraising is carried out in a sensitive and safe way, in-line with the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) and current UK Government advice on Coronavirus. See guidance from EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Before reading this guidance on public fundraising, read our over-arching COVID-19 guidance which includes what you should consider when adapting the way your organisation fundraises as lockdown measures are eased, in particular:

  • 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; 
  • 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.

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

Fundraising in public: principles and key considerations 

Fundraising must be carried out responsibly and as Government restrictions are eased, the health, safety and wellbeing of the public, fundraisers and volunteers must come first. Fundraising should only restart when fundraising 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 methods of fundraising that are carried out in public, including face-to-face fundraising, which is defined as asking people for a commitment to make regular donations by, for example, direct debit, or collecting personal data so people can make donations at a future date. Fundraisers using this method of fundraising speak to people face-to-face on the street, by knocking on people’s doors (door-to-door fundraising), or on private land which the public have access to, such as shopping centres or supermarkets (private site fundraising).

For more information go to Health and Safety Executive and also see relevant guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Keep up good hygiene practices. Cleaning practices and hand hygiene are important in reducing the risk of transmission. 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 to use whenever they come into contact with an object or have to touch something (such as a doorbell) which others may have touched. Sanitiser should be used before and after touching any such object. Restrict the use of shared equipment wherever possible, and if it must be shared make sure it is frequently cleaned, especially between use.

Keep to social distancing guidance. You must fundraise in accordance with Government guidance on social distancing and any further conditions from local authorities. See advice from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You should be aware that this could change over time and you will need to keep up-to-date with any changes and respond appropriately. You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessment. If there are certain locations, for example, flats or apartment blocks with narrow walkways, where social distancing cannot be maintained, you should not fundraise in those locations. Be aware that the public might expect to maintain these practices after 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. For example, if you knock on a person’s door, you should then move at least two metres away from the door. If you have a stand in a public place then consider having 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 to act quickly and ensure a proper distance is maintained. Due to the risk of transmission, fundraisers should never shout to attract attention or during the course of a conversation, even if they are in a loud public setting. You should also refrain from playing loud music. If the setting becomes too loud so that fundraisers are unable to have a conversation at normal speaking volume than they should not initiate or continue a conversation.
  • Give way to the public. Fundraisers must never cause any physical obstruction to the public (see standard 8.1.2 in the code). When you are moving between positions you should always maintain social distancing, and give way to members of the public to let them pass you at a safe distance. If any setting does not enable the fundraiser to give way to the public and maintain social distancing throughout then fundraising should not take place in that setting.
  • Maintain a static position. In normal circumstances, the code allows fundraisers to approach the public, for example by taking steps alongside them (see standards 8.4.19 and 8.4.28 in the code). However, this is likely to cause anxiety at the current time, so we recommend maintaining a static position in general and giving clear warning if you are going to move closer to a member of the public, while always maintaining a two metre distance. 
  • Review methods for exchanging items. Any activity which involves an exchange of items or close contact, such as printed materials or a ‘thank you’ (for example, a badge for adopting an animal), should only 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. 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 two metre distance. 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 or grief, so it’s important to 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 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 guide fundraisers on what they should be doing. Any training should be delivered virtually, in order to meet Government guidelines. It’s important that fundraisers feel confident and reassured before going back out to fundraise 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. If you are fundraising in a public place or on a private site, check that any previously obtained licences or permissions are still valid. Contact the licence holder that granted you permission and ask if there are any further terms and conditions you need to comply with. If you are relying on a national exemption order you must check whether any additional measures or changes are necessary. You should be prepared to share your risk assessment with any licensor or permission-holder. For further standards on licences and permissions, see section 8.2 of the code.

Use street fundraising sites responsibly. You should observe current social distancing guidance when deciding where to street fundraise. If part of a site becomes particularly crowded, for example, due to multiple queues forming, you should reposition your staff while also meeting the requirements of any Site Management Agreement that may be in place.

Limit the number of fundraisers. The number of fundraisers working in one area or site should be limited, for example:

  • For door-to-door fundraising, no more than four fundraisers should work together at the same time and only one fundraiser at a time should approach a household. 
  • For street fundraising, no more than four fundraisers should work on the same site at the same time in general, but any terms of Site Management Agreements must be adhered to and will take precedence if it sets out a smaller number of fundraisers.
  • For private site fundraising, the number of fundraisers will be set by the terms of the relevant agreement with the site owner. 

You should allocate people to the same fundraising team wherever possible, to limit social interaction. Walk and cycle if you can. Where this is not possible, use public transport or drive. If using public transport is necessary, wearing a face covering is mandatory. If driving, avoid car sharing where possible. Keep a temporary record of your staff shift patterns, fundraising locations and sign-ups for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your fundraising organisation, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed – there is more information on Test and Trace in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Review how you process donations. To adhere to social distancing guidance and good hygiene practices, you should review how you take payments and handle donations. All solutions need to meet the standards on processing donations in section 4 of the code. 

Review how you collect donor information. Only ask donors to fill out information in a way that can be done safely and so you can maintain social distancing. For example, using a tablet that is on a stand which enables you to maintain social distancing rather than physically handing the tablet to an individual and ensure that you clean it before and after each use. Alternative options and use of technology may be able to explored to collect donor information as long as they enable you to always meet those guidelines.

Make sure ID badges and mandatory information is accessible. You must make sure you continue to 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. 

Carefully select your door-to-door fundraising territory. When selecting territories in which to fundraise, be particularly mindful of places where there may be greater numbers of people who are shielding or who may be more vulnerable to the virus. No work should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield.

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.

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.