Collections and cash handling

I’m going to hold a collection or place collection tins in shops/venues

If you’re going to hold a collection or place collection tins in your local shops/venues you must follow the regulations in the Fundraising Regulators code of practice.

If you have charitable collections on public or private sites you need to be sensitive to the people you meet and any permission that you need to do so. You also need to keep yourself, your collection money and your collectors safe.

Do I need a licence?

The law on collecting money or other property varies according to the type and location of the collection. In most cases for collections on public land (e.g. a high street or park) you’ll need a licence or permission to collect from the relevant local authority. In Northern Ireland this will be the Police Service of Northern Ireland. On private land, you’ll need permission from the person responsible for the site (e.g. a supermarket manager).

You must apply for licences in good time before the collection is due to take place.

In Scotland, unless the relevant authority doesn’t require you to hold a licence, you must apply for a licence in writing at least one month before your collection (or within any other period the local authority decides).

For street collections in Northern Ireland you must apply for a licence in writing before the first day of the month before the month in which the collection will take place. For example, if you’re holding a collection on 14 February you must apply by 31 December.

You must carry out all collections in line with the terms of the relevant permit or licence.

Fundraising on private sites (e.g supermarket, shopping centres, garden centres)

If you’re fundraising on a private site you must:

  • have permission from the property owner/manager to collect
  • keep to the agreed dates, times and areas allowed for collecting
  • record all bookings, including the full name of the person you made the booking with, the dates that were agreed and the type of activity that was agreed
  • keep these records for at least 28 days.

I’m organising a bag pack

The regulations do not draw a distinction between collecting and organising a bag pack. A bag pack is going to take place on private property so you’ll need the permission of the site owner.

All the other regulations apply, including the age limits on collectors.

What do I have to do if I have a collecting licence?

If you’re organising a collection you should:

  • be sure that anyone collecting with you is, in your opinion, a ‘fit and proper’ person to collect
  • ensure collectors are at least the minimum age allowed to fundraise in the relevant country (generally age 16)
  • always read through the conditions of the collecting licence to check if you need to meet any other legal requirements relating to official materials or authorisation (this includes ensuring that any collecting buckets or boxes are correctly labelled with the charities registration number and that they are correctly sealed to prevent fraud).

We will provide you with an authority to fundraise certificate for each collector. Collectors should have copies of these certificates and display them where the public can see them.

Some authorities will require you to submit additional information to them. You may have to provide full details of all collectors in a certain area, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, the precise area to be covered and the exact period during which the collector is authorised to collect.

Age restrictions

Although young people under the age of 16 can be present at collections, the regulations are quite clear about minimum age for actually collecting and handling money.

You must not allow anyone under 16 to carry out street collections, except in London where, if you have special permission, you can use street collectors aged 14 or over.

You must not give children under 16 overall responsibility for handling money or responsibility for counting collected money.

What are the rules about what I must do and not do when I am collecting?

The fundraising regulations state that you must:

  • meet any legal requirements relating to collecting boxes, certificates of authority and badges (we can help you with this)
  • avoid causing an obstruction, congestion and nuisance to the public
  • treat the locations you are working at or visiting with respect.

The fundraising regulations state that you must not:

  • act in any way that might reasonably cause members of the public to be or become startled or anxious
  • act dishonestly, manipulatively or deliberately try to make a potential donor feel guilty
  • act in any way that a reasonable person might consider would damage the charitable institution’s reputation
  • smoke or drink alcohol while wearing clothing that contains a charitable institution’s branding
  • deliberately block the path of members of the public
  • approach members of the public who are seated (unless the seating is part of a charitable institution’s promotional stand), in queues (unless the queue is directly related to the fundraising activity) without it being authorised under an agreement with a private site
  • knowingly approach people who are carrying out official duties (e.g. uniformed officials) while they’re on duty or people who are clearly working
  • obstruct, interfere with or disrespect members of staff from local businesses.

House to house collections

Versus Arthritis does not support house to house collecting. This is to protect the safety of our collectors and to avoid the additional burden of regulation around this type of collection. For further information on this please contact the Community Fundraising team on 0300 790 0405 or email:

Static collections

Static collections involve the use of collecting boxes which stay in one place − either on the floor or on counters in places such as shops, pubs, hotels, hospitals and reception areas.

Whilst this is often a great way to raise awareness of Versus Arthritis in your community, and raise money continuously over a longer period of time, there are rules that have to be followed.

If you intend to place a collection tin, you must get the permission of the site owner, or those with authority to give you permission, to hold a static collection on the site. The permission must be in writing. Our Community Fundraising team can help you by sending you a site agreement.

When you place a collecting tin, collect the tin or empty it of cash you must have a Versus Arthritis authority to fundraise certificate with you to show the site owner or those responsible for the site (i.e. a shop assistant).

If you’re asking someone else to collect or empty a tin on your behalf you must give them a letter, certificate of authority or badge to confirm that they’re authorised to collect on your behalf.

This letter, certificate or badge should contain:

  • the collector’s name
  • the contact details of the organiser
  • the fact that this is a collection for Versus Arthritis
  • the name of the organiser if this is different to the collector.

If you’re placing a static collecting tin you must make it clear to the site owner, or those holding a static collection on the premises, that they contact you (preferably in writing) if:

  • a box is lost or stolen
  • they want to end the collection.

If you’re told that a collecting tin has been lost or stolen you should inform the Community Fundraising team.

Handling cash collected

Keep safe when handling money by following these guidelines:

  • Do not leave unsecured cash unattended.
  • Count your money raised in a secure place not in the open.
  • Wherever possible, ensure all cash collected in counted and recorded by two unrelated people.
  • Ensure cash donations are collected in sealed containers/ collecting tins.
  • Open collecting tins yourself with another person unrelated to you.
  • Bank the money from collections as soon as possible by sending it to Versus Arthritis in the full amount without taking fees/expenses. You can bank money into your personal account and send a bank transfer or cheque to Versus Arthritis.

Fundraising risk assessment

The fundraising regulations state that you should carry out and record a risk assessment of any fundraising activity, including collections, wherever they’re taking place.

A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork , but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your fundraising activity.

Risk assessments are a way of recording the potential for things to go wrong at an event and what you can do to stop that happening. They’re a useful part of your event planning, often working as an event checklist. Some venues or insurers may ask to see a risk assessment.

Download our blank risk assessment template (Word doc, 126 KB).

You can call the Events team on 0300 790 0402 for support.

Handling personal data

As a charity we take the protection and processing of people’s data very seriously. Check out our privacy policy.

As a fundraiser you’re likely dealing with personal data. Only collect data you need, do not share this data and only keep the data for as long as you need it.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Only collect data you need.
  • Store data safely by keeping hardcopies in a cupboard and password protecting electronic copies.
  • Destroy data you don’t need.
  • Remove data upon request or in case of data of deceased individuals.

Protecting personal data ensures people can trust fundraisers to use their data legally, fairly and responsibly.

Certain special category data such as information about religion, race or health might have stronger protections. We see no valid reason for fundraisers to hold any special category data and we would ask you not to do this.

For more support why not contact the Versus Arthritis team?

If you’re a sports event fundraiser call the events team on 0300 790 0402 or email

If you’re organising a community fundraising event call the community fundraising team on
0300 790 0405 or email: