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Volunteers

Volunteers help organisations to raise money in many ways. They host events, carry out street collections, engage with supporters and much more. Volunteers have a lot of contact with the public, so managing them well is key for many charities.
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I want to go straight to the code and read what it says about volunteer fundraising

Read the code

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

I have a concern about a particular volunteer fundraiser

Make a complaint

I have a concern about a particular volunteer fundraiser

For charities

The Code of Fundraising Practice sets out two types of volunteer relationship – ‘in aid of’ and ‘on behalf of’.

An ‘in aid of’ relationship is one in which the volunteer acts independently of the charity. In this case, the volunteer is completely responsible for their fundraising activity. The Charity may not know about the volunteer’s acts in such cases until the point at which they receive donations. 

The more evidence there is of the charity’s involvement in the volunteer fundraiser’s activities in advance of them taking place, the more likely the volunteer could be seen as fundraising ‘on behalf of’ the organisation.

For this reason, it is important to be clear about what responsibility the charity accepts for the volunteer’s activities. This may range from a clear statement issued to the volunteer that the charity “does not hold any responsibility for the fundraising activities and will not be held liable in any way” to a more formal support agreement.

Depending on how involved you are in the volunteer’s activities, this agreement may include:

  • reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses;
  • health and safety checks;
  • providing fundraising materials; and
  • carrying out suitability checks.

When developing a volunteering agreement, the charity should be careful not to include any mutual obligations which could be seen as creating an employment contract. More information on volunteer agreements can be found on the NCVO’s Knowhow Nonprofit website.

To see the Code rules about working with volunteers, see Section 2. If you are working with volunteers who are children, see also Section 3. There is extensive guidance on working with volunteers, including IoF, Charity Commission, and NCVO.

Where possible you should ensure that volunteers know the Key Principles and Behaviours and rules on the handling of donations in the Code of Fundraising Practice. They should also be familiar with sections related to the fundraising they are doing.

For members of the public who wish to volunteer

Being a volunteer fundraiser can provide many benefits. You can make a difference in your community, build your CV, and gain new skills and experience.

If you want to start fundraising for a charity, you should contact them to let them know what you are planning to do. This means that they will be able to put any agreements in place and provide appropriate support. It also means that they will know any specific wishes you have for the money you raise, for example if you want it to benefit a particular part of their work.

Be aware though that the way the money is spent is ultimately a decision for the charity’s trustees, who are responsible for spending donations according to the charity’s objects. Unless the charity has agreed special conditions for accepting the money you have raised, there is no guarantee that it can fulfil any special wishes you may have for how it is spent.

Volunteer fundraisers still need to follow the Code of Fundraising Practice. Take a look here to make sure that what you are doing is legal and in line with best practice. Charities also have certain things they have to do when working with volunteers. To see what to expect, see the Code section on working with volunteers.

If you want to volunteer for a charity, check out NCVO’s guidance, including links to organisations that can help you get started.

If you have been volunteering and it has not gone to plan, take a look at NCVO’s guidance on what to do.

Volunteer resources

Guidance

Charity challenge events

10 tips for taking part in events run by challenge event companies
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Investigation

A complaint about volunteer fundraising: Mr W

Mr W used an online giving platform to organise a race to raise money for a town in Africa. His intention was to organise the race every year until the local people could organise it instead.
He agreed with a charity that the money raised would be given to them, and that the charity would then pass money to him each year as needed. But he’s now in a disagreement with the charity about what should happen to the money raised.
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Investigation

A complaint about ‘on behalf of’ fundraising: Mr L

A charity failed to verify the identity of a volunteer that visited Mr L’s property collecting sponsorship money on their behalf.
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