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People in need of safeguarding while fundraising

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Children as fundraisers

Children can get involved in fundraising in different ways. They can participate by attending events, joining in at school or taking the initiative with their own activities. If you’re encouraging children to become fundraisers, you need to provide extra support. You also need to know that for some activities adults must also be involved in order for the activity to be legal, not just for good safeguarding.

You must not encourage children to do any of the following, without adult supervision:

  • sell raffle tickets
  • carry out house-to-house collections of any kind
  • get involved in events involving alcohol or gambling.

If you’re working with children as fundraisers then you must:

  • have a good safeguarding policy
  • have procedures everyone knows how to use
  • carry out role risk assessments for all staff and volunteers
  • carry out criminal records checks when they’re allowed
  • make sure everyone understands their responsibility to speak up if they have any concerns
  • make sure you have good procedures for reporting any concerns raised.

You should also consider the elements of the Code of Fundraising Practice which relate to working with children.

  • If you’re working with under 14’s, you must get consent from a parent or guardian if you wish to take photographs or share images of them. This also applies if you want to take or share any personal information about them.
  • You must not try to get regular donations (like direct debits) from under 19’s.
  • You must make sure you have approval from the school for any activity carried out in or near school premises.
Sunshine charity is organising a fun day to raise money. There’ll be lots of children and adults present. The charity provides briefing packs to their volunteers with key contacts and processes. This means they know what to do and who to contact in certain situations, such as if a child was lost. They know they’ll be providing pictures of the event to the local newspaper, so they make sure their photographer has forms to ask parents to sign as they take photos.

People you’ve helped, as fundraisers and donors

People should be able to support your charity how and whenever they want to. But if they’re someone you’ve helped, a service user or beneficiary, you should take extra care in how you work with them. 

You should ask yourselves the questions below.

  • Do your service users or beneficiaries feel pressured to donate either money or their time as fundraisers?
  • What are the lives of your service users or beneficiaries like?
  • Are they likely to be able to make informed decisions about whether they get involved?
  • Could your fundraising put people at risk?
  • Could your fundraising activities be seen to be taking advantage of any one group?

You must have a policy on acceptance and refusal of donations and fundraising support that sets out how your organisation deals with these issues.

Simpler Days provides services to people with mental health and stress-related conditions. Alice, one of the people it supports, is really keen to be involved in fundraising. She wants to tell her story and make a sizeable donation to the charity from an inheritance she’s just received. Simpler Days fundraising manager arranges a meeting with Alice and suggests she brings along a friend she trusts, if she wants to. The manager has been trained in recognising conflicts of interest and how to speak to vulnerable people about donations. He can also identify signs or indicators of whether Alice understands the decision fully.

People who share their stories

Real stories from real people can be extremely effective when used in fundraising communications. But if you’re using people’s stories, there are a few things to consider to make sure they’re involved and happy with what you’ve planned.

  • Have you taken steps to make sure people’s words are not used in a way that makes them unhappy?
  • Do you have their consent to feature their story in all the different ways you plan to use it?
  • If it’s intended to be anonymous, is there anything included that could be used to identify who they are?
  • Are you representing them accurately with respect and dignity? 
  • Are you putting their welfare first?

You must involve people from the beginning and make sure they consent to every step.

Aftercare, a charity for people who have experienced sexual abuse and harassment, produces new fundraising case studies every year. These are created from different people’s experiences rather than being one person’s story. The team work with a group of people they’ve helped as a co-creation committee. They advise on the words, images and content. The group often focus on making sure that the stories don’t suggest they’re about ‘victims’ or ‘sufferers’.   

Other donors who may be vulnerable

All fundraisers will sometimes find themselves approaching donors who may be vulnerable or need additional support to make a decision. You must be aware of the risks and know what to do if you’re concerned about an individual and their circumstances. There is no ‘one size fits all’ set of actions. Instead, recognising individuals’ situations and responding to their needs is the best way to make sure they’re safe.

A person at risk is:

  • someone who does not have mental capacity to make this decision 
  • someone affected by a particular condition or life event including things like bereavement, depression or financial hardship.

If you reasonably believe someone is not in a position to make a decision you must:

  • not accept the donation
  • return a donation if it’s already been made
  • make sure you don’t approach the person for further donations whilst they’re unable to make informed decisions.

During the donation process you must:

  • make sure your fundraising information is clear and accessible
  • always treat a donor fairly, taking into account any additional needs they have
  • never pressure someone into making a donation
  • be alert to signs that someone may be confused or vulnerable and may need additional support
  • be careful not to take advantage of mistakes by donors
  • be careful not to exploit donors’ lack of knowledge or need for support
  • avoid asking for a donation if a person clearly indicates they don’t want to speak with you
  • never deny someone the right to donate on account of their age or any other factor that does not relate to their ability to make an informed decision
Jacaranda Gardens provides hospice care to adults at the end of their life. Family members often want to make donations in gratitude for the care their loved ones have received. The hospice realises that a recently bereaved person may need additional support to help them make the decision whether to donate. Their policy is to offer a ‘cooling off’ period, delaying acceptance of the gift. This gives the donor further time to consider their donation and get advice from family and friends.
  • To learn more about how to work with donors, use this Treating Donors Fairly guidance (from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising).

Employees and volunteers

A charity should make sure its staff and volunteers feel safe and protected too. To create a safer culture, you must take a zero tolerance approach to bullying, harassment or sexual harassment. You must have a policy that demands safe, respectful behaviour from everyone, from volunteers to the charity’s most important donor. As a fundraising manager, you should make sure that everyone involved in fundraising knows they can speak up about anything that concerns them.

This might include:

  • sexist jokes
  • excessive criticism
  • discriminating against or regularly undermining someone
  • physical abuse
  • any behaviour that makes people feel intimidated or offended. 

Make sure everyone knows about how to speak up and who to speak to. Your staff should know about the organisation’s whistleblowing policy. Your volunteers should know they have the right to talk to people outside the organisation if they aren’t being listened to inside it. 

In fundraising, you must understand the different relationships you have with volunteers, in order to give them the right support and guidance. 

Consider these questions:

  • How are you meeting your duty to safeguarding staff and volunteers?
  • What guidance, training, support and supervision is needed so volunteers can fundraise in a legal, open and respectful manner?
  • How can you make it clear to all volunteers that any money collected in the charity’s name must be received by the organisation?
  • What are the health and safety requirements for working with volunteers?
  • What are the risks linked to volunteer fundraising and how will they be recorded and reduced?
Sing for Their Supper hosts fundraising events with the help of volunteers in a range of roles from singers, to waiting staff. When briefing volunteers, the team explain their code of conduct and make it clear that they adopt a zero tolerance approach to certain behaviour (such as sexist jokes). They highlight how to gently challenge the behaviour when it happens if you feel comfortable, or how to report it to a team leader if you don’t.



Page last edited Jun 21, 2021

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