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Charitable Fundraising

Posted by Nick Dent on 13th July 2015

Charities and how they go about raising funds has been headline news recently, especially since the death of poppy seller, Olive Cooke, in May 2015.

An inquest found Mrs. Cooke, from Bristol, had received 267 charity letters in one month, leading to suggestions that the hounding for money pushed her to take her own life. Her family insists, however, the charities are not to blame.

The incident has nevertheless prompted the intervention of Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said that the actions of some fundraisers are damaging the reputation of the charity sector.

Consequently, charities are to be forced to draw up written agreements showing how vulnerable people will be protected from aggressive fundraising tactics, and these changes will be introduced in amendments to the Charities Bill.

The Charity Commission issues the following guidance on charities and fundraising: –

  • Best Practice – trustees must ensure their charity complies with the law relating to fundraising and follows best practice. This includes all aspects of fundraising including fundraising methods, the costs involved, the financial risk and how the money raised is spent. Trustees need to think about the impact their fundraising methods will have on public opinion and the reputation of their charity.
  • Fundraising Contracts – self-regulation has meant that charities and professional fundraisers have set and followed their own standards of fundraising practice. Under the new rules, however, all new fundraising contracts between charities and fundraisers will need to “explicitly state how the vulnerable are protected”.
  • Charities with £1m+ incomes – charities with incomes of more than £1 million will need to set out in their trustees’ annual report their fundraising approach. This will include the use of professional fundraising agencies, as well as steps to prevent inappropriate fundraising from vulnerable people, such as the elderly and people with Alzheimer’s.

The legislation would also require all professional fundraisers to set out in their agreements with charities what steps they were taking to protect vulnerable people from high-pressure tactics.

If you would like any assistance drafting your Fundraising Agreement, please contact our Charity Law expert Nick Dent on 01642 610 350 or by email

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