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Returning to Public Fundraising as Covid-19 Restrictions Ease

By Paul Winyard, Policy Manager at the Fundraising Regulator

The pandemic has created a period of uncertainty for many charities. Social distancing measures have reduced the ability to fundraise and trade in public, while the fallout has led to an increase in demand for the support communities across the country rely on. Government support measures have provided a welcome lifeline for many organisations, but the sector understandably wants to be mobilised, not mothballed.

As we near the end of the Government’s roadmap in England and social distancing measures are relaxed across the UK, charities are beginning to plan their return to public fundraising. Yet it’s important that organisations don’t leap headfirst into public fundraising before undertaking careful planning, particularly considering whether it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In many small charities, there may not be a dedicated fundraising team or specialist in-house expertise. That’s why it’s critical that both trustees and staff working across the organisation understand their responsibilities and the key principles that must underpin a safe return to fundraising. Complying with the guidance set out below is essential for maintaining public trust in fundraising that the sector has worked hard to build.

The key principles of safe and responsible fundraising

Before restarting public fundraising, charities should be confident that this can be done safely and responsibly. Recent months have highlighted the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and how quickly government policy and transmission rates can change. Keeping up-to-date with Government guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is vital.

Charities should then carry out risk assessments of each type of fundraising activity being considered. Evaluating the risks and benefits will help determine whether a return to fundraising is in the best interest of the public, supporters, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. Gauging public appetite for person-to-person contact should be a key part of any risk assessment to help mitigate against potential reputational damage. Fundraising should only restart when the time is right.

If it’s decided that resuming fundraising is the correct course of action, charities will need to think carefully about contingency planning in close consultation with staff and fundraising partners. This will help charities be prepared for problems – like the potential cancellation of events - before they arise. Fundraisers should hope for the best, but plan for the worse.

Proper oversight of decision making underpins effective planning and risk assessments. Trustees are ultimately responsible for an organisation’s fundraising strategy, so it’s important they oversee the evaluation of risks and the development of an organisation’s timetabled return to fundraising.

Safeguarding the public and fundraisers should be at the heart of all fundraising activity. Charities should comply with any relevant guidance to keep people safe, such as social distancing measures, testing and self-isolation guidelines for the country in which they are fundraising.

Our coronavirus key principles guidance provides more information on the steps that should be taken before fundraising resumes. It forms part of our COVID series of guidance, developed in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, that aims to support charities in returning to fundraising in a responsible way. This includes tailored advice for events and community fundraising, public fundraising and cash collections.

All our COVID guidance includes useful links to the relevant sections of the Code of Fundraising Practice. Every organisation that fundraises in the UK must adhere to the standards set out in the code.

Enhance and protect trust in your charity’s reputation

Good engagement with donors and the public is a result of public trust and confidence in fundraising. Charities can enhance and protect trust in their organisation’s reputation by registering with the Fundraising Regulator and getting access to the Fundraising Badge – the logo which shows a charity is registered with us. Research shows that donors are more likely to give to organisations that register and display the Fundraising Badge on their fundraising materials. The cost of small charity registration is just £50 per year. To find our more visit our website or email



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