Institute of Fundraising: House to house - Scotland and Northern Ireland rules

Can you tell me the procedure for house-to-house collections in Northern Ireland? You must apply for a licence from the police if you plan to carry out a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic collection.

If you are likely to carry out collections in many different areas of Northern Ireland, then you can apply to the Charities Branch of the Department for Social Development for an Exemption Order - this means you don't have to apply for a licence in every area.

What about in Scotland? Anyone wishing to conduct a public charitable collection must first obtain permission from the island or district council where the collection is going to be held. Permission isn't necessary for a collection that takes place during a public meeting, or for a static collection box.

Public charitable collection? What's the definition of this term? This means a collection from the public of money for charitable purposes, either in a public place or by going from place to place. Charitable purposes means any charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes. Seek guidance from the relevant council if you are unsure whether certain areas are 'public', such as railway stations and shopping centres.

What other regulations are there? Each collector must carry with them a badge that has been signed by them and clearly shows the name of the charity. They must also carry a certificate of authority, which has to show the name and address of the charity, name and address of the collector, place of collection, date of collection, and signatures of the collector and the collection promoter.

Collectors must either use envelopes which can be securely closed or a box that is securely closed and sealed. A distinguishing number should be marked on the box. Both envelopes and boxes must bear the name and address of the charity.

Is there anything else I should bear in mind? To ensure good practice, a charity should have a clear policy regarding the insurance of both collectors and collections. Collections should not take place after 9pm, and collectors should pair up together to increase the security of both collectors and collections.

For more information, please see the Code of Fundraising Practice, 'Scottish Charity Law in Relation to Fundraising and Public Charitable Collections'.

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