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Types of fundraising and associated risks

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Community fundraising

Community fundraising brings together lots of different people with a huge variety of activities, that can present varied risks and challenges.
If you encourage volunteers to carry out fundraising on your behalf in the community you must make sure that they know what you expect of them. You must come up with a good way of communicating this, either in person or in an information pack or online exercise.

The information should include:

  • whether the event is being co-run between your team and the volunteers or purely by the volunteers (on behalf of, or in aid of, are the fundraising terms for each)
  • contact details for advice or if they have problems
  • instructions on how to do a risk assessment and planning
  • advice on how to make events safer and more inclusive
  • information to put on publicity materials.
New Futures has a briefing pack on its website with tips and guidance for people setting up their own fundraising events. They advise that fundraisers give the charity full details of their activity in advance and explain how to make donations afterwards. It requests that volunteers make it very clear in all communications that they are running the event in aid of New Futures, but that it is not a New Futures event.  

Corporate fundraising

It is easy to think that because you are working with businesses in corporate fundraising that you don’t need to worry about safeguarding. This is not true. You should still to carry out safeguarding risk assessments for all your activities and you must work hard to make sure your code of conduct is upheld. Here are two common activities in corporate fundraising that need a safeguarding approach.

Corporate fundraising events

You must make sure that these events are run in a way that help keep people safe. Even if it is the corporate organisation taking the lead, any problems that arise will affect your charity. In the planning stages you should ask questions, and make sure you are satisfied that your partners are taking safeguarding seriously.

  • Is the event appropriate and are you confident that everyone in attendance will be treated with respect? 
  • If the event is contracted to an events company, have you checked its policies and protocols?
  • Is the event following the Code of Fundraising Practice or could donors feel pressured to donate? 
Kids Go Further holds fundraising gala events every year with their corporate partner. The partner leads on most of the logistics, but the charity makes sure each supplier receives clear specifications including a safeguarding policy, equality and diversity policy, and code of conduct that they are expected to meet. They sign a written contract including an agreement to uphold those standards. The charity have volunteers collecting feedback from Gala attendees and other monitoring methods in place to make sure these obligations are fulfilled.

Visits and employee volunteering opportunities

A longer-term relationship with a corporate partner often involves employee visits or volunteering. When you develop this type of activity you must do this working closely with your colleagues across the charity. You’ll need to be sure that it does not disturb your day-to-day work, and that it is not a problem for the people you work with, especially service users and beneficiaries.

When external people visit your premises make sure:

  • you have enough staff or volunteers on hand to manage the visit
  • you’ve sent the company your safeguarding policy and code of conduct in advance so everyone visiting knows what’s expected of them 
  • you keep a register of visitors
  • everyone visiting has signed in and signed out. 
First Health runs a children’s hospital. They find that showing their corporate partner the work they do is a great way to keep them engaged in the charity and the cause. Visits are always scheduled in advance and visitors are told in advance the behaviour that’s expected of them. Only those beneficiaries and staff that have said they are comfortable with meeting visitors will do so, and the number of visitors is kept to under 10. 

Major donor fundraising

Major donor fundraising is about building relationships. It is also about donors making or withholding gifts that are considered extremely important to the running of your charity.

This can put you in a vulnerable position as a fundraiser and it is important to remember some key principles.

  • You must not let behaviour slide that you wouldn’t normally accept. 
  • You must not allow the donor to be more involved in the charity than you are comfortable with.
  • Your safety and the safety of the people the charity works with is a priority.

This can be difficult to manage and needs the support of the whole organisation. Your policies must all emphasise that they apply to everyone, including major donors. Specific policies and procedures will help prevent situations from arising.

  • Have a lone working policy for meetings with donors.
  • Have a set of procedures for donor visits and the types of involvement that are suitable, that has been agreed by the whole organisation.
  • Develop gift acceptance policies that cover what to do about donors who have had a complaint made about them.
  • Make sure all fundraisers know how to report issues with a donor, and how to escalate that report if they don’t get a response they are happy with.
River Waters Trust has completed a risk assessment of their major donor fundraising. They no longer use home-visits as a medium for conversations with donors and always meet in a public place instead. When working an event that serves alcohol they recommend that their fundraisers avoid drinking. Senior leadership emphasises that fundraising managers should put the safety of fundraisers above targets.

You must also be prepared for incidents and things that you might need to be able to do in response. 

  • Be prepared to report a donor to the police, or safeguarding bodies, in the case of serious incidents.
  • Work with the complainant to address the issue with the donor directly, if they feel able to do so.
  • Be ready to assign a donor to a different fundraiser.
  • Be ready to ensure visits to a donor are always accompanied.
  • Be prepared to manage a donor’s participation in organisational events and reduce their opportunities to engage directly with staff.
  • Be prepared to reject a donor.
Tech Dreams has a long-term relationship with a major donor. They indicate they’ve recently sold their business and would like to make a large donation to your cause. They say they’d like to invite the fundraiser at the charity who they’ve known for a number of years to their house for dinner to discuss the donation. Tech Dreams wants to make sure the fundraiser is safe and supported. The team suggests that the CEO accompanies the fundraiser. They also suggest it’s moved to lunchtime and to a public venue. 


When you’re organising a fundraising event of any kind, it’s important to identify potential risks so everyone involved stays safe. When you as fundraisers are putting together that event yourselves these are your responsibilities. It is also important that you remind people fundraising ‘in aid of’ your charity, such as in a national coffee morning campaign, that they should consider these things as they plan their event.

Compare your checklists with ours.

  • Is the venue suitable? Does it comply with legal requirements and is it safe?
  • What risks are raised by the event itself and what action should we take to reduce them?
  • Have all participants agreed to take part?
  • Have we got a code of conduct that we expect event attendees to follow so they know what’s expected of them? Is it publically displayed?
  • Who should people speak to if they have any safeguarding concerns? Is this information clearly displayed?
  • Who will take the lead on dealing with safeguarding concerns if they come up? Do all staff and volunteers know how to contact them?
  • Will the event involve children or adults at risk, and do you know your legal responsibilities depending on the activities at the event? 
  • What specialist and first aid equipment will be needed and how can we make sure it’s good enough?
  • What are the travel arrangements to and from the event? 
  • What partners are involved and how will they be briefed on safeguarding? 
  • Do any products sold at the event comply with safety standards?
  • Is the food safe and does it comply with regulations?
  • If alcohol is being served, have the relevant licences/permissions been secured and age limits followed?
  • What is your plan for transporting money after the event? 

For more information on handling money, see the handling money section of this guide

Public fundraising

Public fundraising means reaching out to find new supporters. Due to the type of activity and the level of engagement with the public it’s important you pay attention to safeguarding in this area

  • You must take care when recruiting anyone who will collect funds publicly or on the doorstep for your charity.
  • You must train people with care to make sure they can do the job safely and well.
  • You must plan your sessions so they do not put undue pressure on the public.
  • You must make sure people can easily make a complaint.
  • You must have a good plan for handling money.

There is no set requirement on what background checks should be taken for fundraising in this way. Every organisation must make their own decision based on the frequency with which people are carrying out the task, the likelihood of engaging with vulnerable people and the potential of access to people’s financial details. You must also make your own decisions about references, trial periods and about the training you provide.

You have a responsibility not to put undue pressure on members of the public. This means you need to check the frequency of collections with the local authority so you can try not to overlap with other charities. You should always know where and for how long your fundraisers are operating.

Happy Hearts employs door-to-door fundraisers to sign up regular givers. They operate a buddy system – they divide up the houses on a street between two fundraisers so no one works in a given area alone. The policy of the charity is that fundraisers do not enter the homes of potential supporters even if invited.

You must think hard about how you’ll provide information about making a complaint. Is it accessible?

Often charities use specialist fundraising agencies to deliver this kind of work. You are responsible for the work they carry out so you must make sure you are comfortable with their safeguarding practices.

Third party fundraising

You have specific responsibilities when dealing with a third party (whether that be a corporate partner, commercial participator or specialist supplier). You must ask yourself three main questions.

  • Have you undertaken due diligence to make sure you are working with suitable organisations?
  • Have you included safeguarding requirements in the contract or working agreement? 
  • To what extent are you prepared to engage with a third party that does not have such policies and procedures?

It’s the charity’s responsibility to make sure each of these organisations assures the charity that it has adequate safeguarding policies and procedures (this is a contractual obligation).

Handling money

At events, and in public fundraising, fundraisers often deal with cash. This presents a risk to people’s personal safety. Some good practice can reduce the likelihood of incidents.

  • Make sure at least two people deal with money raised.
  • Avoid leaving anyone to carry money by themselves.
  • If travelling by public transport, advise people to carry bags that hide the fact they’re carrying charity funds (cover buckets and boxes).
  • If you’re using a car, remember to store your collection materials out of sight.
  • Try and pay your money to the charity or bank as soon as possible. 
  • When an event finishes at night, try to use a bank night safe or safety deposit box.
  • Advise people to hand over cash if they are ever challenged for it, and report the incident to the police and the fundraising manager within 24 hours.
Page last edited Oct 04, 2019

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