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Street Collecting – The Rules

Word on the street is that street collecting is a fantastic way of fundraising and boosting funds. But do you know the rules? Keep reading to find out what you have to have in place to be allowed to collect donations on the High Street.

Bucket shaking (although, technically, you’re not actually allowed to do that) might seem like a really old-school way of fundraising, but it is in fact one of the most important tools in a charity’s donation-boosting arsenal.

Not only does it boost finances, but it also thrusts your charitable organisation into the public domain, raises awareness and increases traction on your donation campaigns.

They’re a quick and easy way of improving public knowledge about the issues and causes you suport, and raises awareness of the vital work your charity does.

This activity is a must when planning your fundraising efforts, and while the government recognises that this is a necessary activity, it also knows that this must be regulated. Collections need to run smoothly, organisations must be genuine and the general public must also be uninhibited in going about its business.

Thus, there are strict laws on street collection and you must adhere to them.

1 – Get a permit

If you’re planning on sending your fundraisers our onto the street to collect money, or even sell items for the charity’s benefit, then a street collection permit is required in England and Wales.

To get a permit, you need to go to the website of the local council of where you are planning to collect. Forms to complete can usually be found on their website.

Depending on where you are planning to pound the streets, you may find that the procedure differs slightly. In places where street collecting is popular, you may face more arduous requirements.

Take time scales into consideration too, as granting a permit will vary. It’s advisable to give at least a full calendar month’s notice of when you need the permit for.

2 – The rules

After you’ve received the permit, there are a set of rules that you must abide by when you start collecting. These rules can also vary place to place and by council, but there are general regulations that apply in most areas.

  • All collectors must be at least 16 years of age. The only exception is if the collection is part of a procession, in which case collectors can be 14 years or above but must also be accompanied by an adult.
  • The public must not be obstructed at any time, and you must not put them in any danger or cause annoyance.
  • Collectors should remain in a stationary position at all times (unless part of a procession).
  • Each street collector must be at least 25 metres away from each other.
  • Collection buckets or tins must be sealed at all times, and should have the name of the charity or fund displayed clearly.
  • Ensure that each group of collectors holds a signed letter of authority from a Chief Promoter. This must be ready for inspection should a police officer or council official ask to see it.
  • Some areas insist that you carry a badge with the council logo, which shows that your collection has been authorised.

3 – Collections via direct debit

Direct debit collections really surged in popularity, and thus the rules and regulations surrounding this type of donation have become more stringent.

Direct debit collections are great for both the organisation and donaters. They’re straightforward, effortless, reliable and were the first step towards cashless society donations. Technology is constantly evolving and new contactless donation points might well start joining or replacing buckets with street collectors. For now we have direct debit donations.

Depending on the area, a licence may or may not be required for this type of collection. In some areas only members of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority are permitted to collect direct debit collections. If you wish to do this, you should either contact the relevant local council for more information, or contract with a professional fundraiser.

Keeping on the right side of the law when it comes to street collections is absolutely paramount. If you get the correct paperwork in hand and make sure you follow the rules, fundraising on the streets can be a fantastic boost for your donations as well as raising awareness of your work. You can contact the licensing department of your local council if you have any questions. Don’t underestimate the power of street collections!