Institute of Fundraising: Fundraisers, participators and consultants: a glossary

What's the difference between a commercial participator and professional fundraiser?

The definition of a professional fundraiser is anyone, either a person or organisation (excluding a charity's trading subsidiary) that:

- Operates a fundraising business (i.e. solicits funds for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes);

- Solicits money or other property for the benefit of a charitable institution and receives at least £500 a year as a reward (or more than £5 a day).

A commercial participator, on the other hand, is any person or organisation other than a charity's trading subsidiary that:

- Operates for gain in a business other than a fundraising business;

- In the course of that business engages in a promotional venture and ...

... represents a) that a donation will be made to charity in connection with the sale or supply of goods or services; or b) that some, or all, of the amounts paid for such goods or services will be passed to charity.

There are strict regulations for both commercial participators and professional fundraisers. This includes stating the proportion of the sale or donation that goes to charity. The relevant legislation can be found in Part II of the Charities Act 1992 and Charitable Institutions (fundraising) Regulations 1994.

OK. So what's the difference between a professional fundraiser and a consultant?

A consultant is paid to advise a charity about how to carry out fundraising activities but doesn't have any contact with donors. This might include preparing a fundraising strategy or materials but not actually making a solicitation for money.

The divide between what constitutes the activities of a consultant and a professional fundraiser is not always clear; sometimes an individual might be acting as both.

If in doubt, check with the Charity Commission or seek legal advice.

Useful Codes of Fundraising Practice are 'Charities Working with Business', 'Personal Solicitation for Committed Gifts on the Street' and 'House to House'.

The Institute invites readers to email questions for inclusion to enquiries@institute-of-fundraising.org.uk.

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