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Direct debit fundraising: street and private site

Street and private site fundraising allows charities to engage with supporters face-to-face in their local high street or shopping centre. Many of the donations received in this way are regular gifts, so it also helps charities to plan ahead.

Regular donations by Direct Debit provide a secure, convenient way of donating. They also ensures charities can plan ahead because they have a regular monthly income.
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I want to go straight to the code and read what it says about direct debit fundraising

Read the code

I want to go straight to the code and read what it says about direct debit fundraising

I have a concern about a particular direct debit fundraising issue

Make a complaint

I have a concern about a particular direct debit fundraising issue

For fundraisers

Unlike cash collections, Direct Debit fundraisers on the street do not require a licence from the local authority. This is because they seek a promise to pay at a future date rather than asking for money directly. However, many councils have a Site Management Agreement with the Institute of Fundraising to control the volume and frequency of direct debit fundraising on their high street. Some councils also use Public Space Protection Orders, which ban certain activities in designated public areas. You should check with the Local Authority to find out any limits in place before commencing direct debit fundraising in a public space. 

For private sites, such as shopping centres and train stations, permission must be sought from the site owner/manager.

Some private site owners, such as Transport for London, do not allow collections by organisations who are not registered with the Fundraising Regulator. Read more about registering with the Fundraising Regulator.

There are a number of rules for street and private site fundraisers. The Code contains these in Sections 16 (public collections) and L6 (fundraising in a public place). You can find further information in the associated Rulebooks. Information about Solicitation Statements can be found in Section L10.

Fundraisers should be clearly identifiable, wearing charity-branded clothing and an ID badge. You cannot pressurise members of the public, but can use reasonable persuasion.

Depending how your collection is being carried out, you may also need to consult other Code sections. These may include working with volunteers, children, or third parties, and the payment of fundraisers.

For the public

Having a conversation with you on your high street or in your local shopping centre allows charities to tell you about their work and answer your questions.

Charities collecting on private sites, such as supermarkets or railway stations, should have permission from the site owner/manager. Direct Debit fundraisers on high streets must follow the Fundraising Regulator’s rules on behaviour and may be subject to local conditions through a local authority Site Management Agreement.

To see the rules on street and private site collections, see our Rulebooks.

Check the IoF website to see if your local authority has a Site Management Agreement in place.

Street and private site collections are usually carried out by professional fundraisers. This can offer better value for money as the charity spends less on staffing costs. If you agree to donate, fundraisers must tell you how much the company they work for is paid and how this was worked out. This can be verbally or in writing, but should be before you give any financial details.

To donate by Direct Debit you only need to give your account number and sort code. You should never give your card number, PIN or security code.

If you think a collection is not legitimate, contact the charity to see if they are collecting in your area. If the Charity is not aware of the appeal, report it to the police.

Direct debit fundraising: street and private site resources

Rulebook
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Street fundraising rulebook

How fundraisers engaging with members of the public in local areas are expected to behave.
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Rulebook
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Private site fundraising rulebook

Site-specific standards which apply to fundraisers working in local areas.
Read more

Related investigations

Investigation
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A complaint about street fundraising: Mr E

Mr E told us that a fundraiser was fundraising on the street without the proper licence in place.
Read more
Investigation
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A complaint about street fundraising: Mr F

Mr F complained about the behaviour of a charity street fundraiser, who he said was also blocking a public walkway.
Read more
Investigation
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A complaint about street fundraising: Mr H

Mr H complained two charity fundraisers were pressurising members of the public to donate. He said they became aggressive when asked questions about the charity’s work, and wouldn’t confirm how much of the money being raised went to the charity.
Read more
Investigation
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A complaint about misleading fundraising: Mr J

Mrs J complained that a charity was selling a product on the basis that “all proceeds” would go to them, and that this was false and misleading.
Read more