Whether they are trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro or hosting coffee mornings, volunteer fundraisers can cause mayhem if they or the charities they are collecting for do not understand the relevant law or best practice. The Institute of Fundraising's code of practice offers a guide to both.
- Volunteer fundraisers may not bother to contact their chosen charities before they collect cash for them. The code describes fundraisers who choose to do this as "acting independently" and "in aid of" the charities, which are not responsible for how volunteers conduct themselves.
- But not everyone raising money is a volunteer under the terms of the code. For example, if a band decides to put on a concert and donate the proceeds to charity, the band members are not classed as volunteers because they gain personal benefit by raising their profile among gig-goers.
- The code recommends "swift action" to prevent "inappropriate or improper fundraising". This includes, for example, theft by volunteer fundraisers acting in aid of a charity.
- There are special rules for celebrity volunteer fundraisers. Try to make sure that their reputations won't damage charities' brands. Charities should seek written agreements with stars and, of course, provide them with information about the organisations they are championing. This could spare you the embarrassing admission by celebrities that they don't know anything about their chosen causes. Have contingency plans in case of a no-show.
- Remember tax and VAT. If an event is organised by a volunteer acting in aid of a charity, then income might be subject to VAT and the profits might be subject to income tax. See the Inland Revenue's website at www.hmrc.gov.uk for more details.