Institute of Fundraising: All you need to know about collecting house to house

What should I do to ensure house-to-house collections run smoothly?

Firstly, there are different regulations depending upon whether the collection is run in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. (Next week, we shall cover Scotland and Northern Ireland).

So do I need a licence for house-to-house collections in England and Wales? Yes, unless you hold an exemption order from the Home Office. Approximately 40 charities hold exemption orders. This means they do not have to register their collections with each local authority, but as a matter of courtesy they should inform the relevant local authority of the collection dates.

I don't have an exemption order, so what do I need to do? You need to apply to the local authority, or in London, the Metropolitan Police, for a licence. You must apply by the first day of the month before the month when the collection will take place, and inform them of the purpose and location of the collection.

What else is there? The person who has been granted the licence is the promoter. They are responsible for ensuring that the collection is carried out in accordance with the licence and that all legal requirements are met. The promoter must ensure that all collectors are over 16, carry a certificate of authority and wear an official badge (certificates and badges are available from the Stationery Office). They must also ensure that a return is made to the local authority that includes details of donations and expenditure incurred.

What about handling money? You must use either sealed tins that have an identification number and show the purposes of the collection, or hand the donor a receipt from a duplicate book, which must be numbered. Envelopes can be used with permission from the Home Office. When counting up, the promoter and another responsible person should be present and the numbers of the tins must be logged.

And what is the definition of a 'house-to-house' collection? According to the House-to-House Collections Act 1939, a house includes a business, so fundraising pub crawls would be covered. The collection of money and property for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes are covered.

For additional information, see the 'House-to-House Collections' Code.

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