Coronavirus (COVID-19): Supporting safe and responsible fundraising

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

15 December 2021: updated to include changes introduced by national Governments such as face masks and vaccine passports.

21 October 2021: updated with information about COVID vaccine certificates.

21 July 2021: first published.

This guidance, produced by the Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, will support charities and their fundraising partners, to fundraise safely and responsibly in ways which protect the public, fundraisers, and volunteers. 

Every fundraising organisation needs to be mindful of the continuing impact and need to respond to COVID-19 as they plan and practice fundraising for the foreseeable future. All fundraising organisations must continue to plan and carry out fundraising activity in a safe and responsible way, following the guidance that is in place in each UK nation. 

As formal and legal restrictions (such as social distancing, limits on gatherings, and mandatory wearing of face coverings) are changed by each UK nation, there remain key considerations and principles which fundraising organisations should consider in their planning. Cautious approaches are still being encouraged by public health bodies and there is a focus on individuals and organisations taking responsibility for their way of working. Individual organisations may choose to adopt social distancing and protective ways of working where they consider that it is right for them, the activity they plan to carry out, and for the management of risk. 

The intention of this guidance is to set out a framework to aid good decision making by organisations across the sector so that fundraising is carried out in a way that is safe, responsible, and gives confidence and protection to the public. To do this we:

  • signpost to relevant guidance set out by UK nations and public health organisations;
  • set out key considerations for fundraising organisations to take on board; and
  • provide advice on how to fundraise in a way that is consistent with the Code of Fundraising Practice and the values of legal, open, honest, and respectful fundraising.
  • It is each individual organisation’s responsibility to ensure that they follow government guidance for each UK nation where they are fundraising, and to consider this guidance and apply it to their work. By doing so, organisations can continue to fundraise in a way that protects the safety and wellbeing of donors and the public, as well as fundraisers, and that they act responsibly in making and explaining their decisions where necessary. More information can be found here for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We aim to update this guidance as and when relevant changes are made. However, organisations should always follow government guidance and any restrictions that are in place at the time of their fundraising. 

Supporting safe and responsible fundraising - planning, preparation, and good decision-making 

In this guidance ‘you’ means a fundraising organisation. We have used the word ‘ensure’ to highlight any requirements set by government and the word ‘must’ indicates requirements set within the Code of Fundraising Practice.

Fundraising activities should only happen when you are satisfied that they 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. You should consider this guidance, the nature of the activity, the location, the preparation, and undertake a risk assessment to inform decisions.

You must continue to comply with the Code of Fundraising Practice. You should also work through the following key considerations before undertaking any fundraising activity to ensure they are mitigating the risks:

1. Keep up to date with and follow Government guidance and any continuing or new restrictions (including regional or local ones) that are in place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

  1. Guidance may change over time so be prepared to be flexible.
  2. There are differences in the restrictions across the four countries, so you will need to ensure that your fundraising is in-line with Government guidance in the nation in which your fundraisers are operating. 

2. Carry out a thorough risk assessment to identify the risks associated with your fundraising activity.

  1. Your risk assessment should cover the following points:
  • the type of fundraising activity you are undertaking;
  • any risks to staff, volunteers and members of the public from that activity;
  • the possibility that someone could be exposed to Covid-19 because of that activity, and
  • actions you can take to minimise or remove the risk.
  1. 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. 
  2. For more information on risk assessments, visit the Health and Safety Executive website and also see relevant guidance in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

3. Following the outcome of your risk assessment, identify the steps you will need to take to protect the public, fundraisers, and volunteers.

  1. You should decide on the measures that you will put in place through your risk assessment to protect the public, fundraisers, staff and volunteers. Examples of measures to consider include, but are not limited to:
  • wearing face masks or face coverings (both by your fundraisers volunteers, as well as attendees at fundraising events) particularly in indoor and crowded settings. Ensure that you follow guidance on face coverings and PPE for the nation in which you are fundraising. See relevant guidance in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
  • Limiting numbers attending an event;
  • enhanced sanitation practices;
  • continued social distancing measures; and
  • adequate ventilation in indoor settings. 
  1. Comply with any requirements on COVID vaccine certificates for higher risk settings. These are currently in place in England, Scotland and in Wales. The settings which require a COVID vaccine certificate, exemptions, and information on what organisations need to do is available in Government guidance from England, Scotland and Wales.
  2. Train fundraisers on the new approaches before you restart fundraising. If you work with a fundraising agency or partner, talk to them about their approach and how they are working in line with Government guidance, and agree appropriate measures for monitoring and compliance. 
  3. You must consider the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances (see section 1.3 of the Code of Fundraising Practice) or with protected characteristics, as well as people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus. 
  4. Ensure that you comply with any workplace testing or test and tracing requirements.
  5. Ensure that any fundraiser, member of staff, or volunteer follows the requirements on self-isolation if they have symptoms of COVID-19. See guidance from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  6. You should follow any requirements that are set by the venue/premises where you are fundraising.

4. Consider the public mood and likely feelings and preferences of supporters

  1. People may not want to donate or engage with you in the same way that they did before the pandemic. You must remain polite and respectful and not put the public under undue pressure to donate.
  2. You should consider the likely public response and the response of your supporters to any fundraising activities you want to undertake and consider comments and feedback that you receive. 
  3. You should be ready and willing to explain openly and clearly why you are fundraising in a particular way, how you are following Government guidance, and the steps you have taken to ensure it is being done safely and responsibly. 
  4. You should make information available and be able to explain your approach to fundraising safely and responsibly as the restrictions lift.

5. Ensure decisions made to carry out a fundraising activity are thoroughly considered, carefully evaluated, and regularly reviewed.

  1. Weigh up the benefits and risks of your fundraising activities, including the settings (indoor or outdoor) and location that they take place, and exercise judgement when deciding what is in the best interests of the public, supporters, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.
  2. Be mindful of the different activities and potential expectations that the public may have when they attend a fundraising event, and in circumstances where members of the public are approached proactively by fundraisers. 
  3. Consult your fundraising teams, and any relevant partners, to ensure that your fundraisers and volunteers know how to fundraise safely and that they have the right training, equipment, and time to prepare.
  4. You must make sure that there is proper management and oversight of decision making, with appropriate documentation. Trustees are crucial in ensuring proper oversight of fundraising decisions as they have ultimate responsibility for charities’ fundraising. Charities should decide on the right level of board involvement and agree a process for signing off plans at an appropriate level.
  5. Be clear about your expectations in relation to fundraising conduct with any third parties and partners that you work with. Engage in early and open dialogue with them about how fundraising is carried out, as well as agreeing appropriate levels of monitoring compliance.
  6. Listen and reflect on feedback you receive from the public, supporters, staff and volunteers. This will help to inform the way you carry out fundraising during this period. Your activity should be continually reviewed, taking into account comments, complaints and feedback.