The regulations governing street collections by charities in Northern Ireland are nothing new – they have been in operation since 1927, having been the subject of legislation in the Police, Factories, etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916. However, as fundraising by other methods grows, fewer and fewer volunteers are carrying out street collections. This means that many may not be as acquainted with the rules as they once were.
One of the most common enquires the Commission receives is from members of the public who want to know whether a charity performing a street collection in their vicinity is genuine. But the responsibility for ensuring street collections are conducted correctly doesn’t stop with us. The Fundraising Code of Practice sets out the rules according to the regulations in place here. The PSNI regulate street collections and violations of the regulation governing them can see, upon summary conviction, a fine levelled of up to £50.
Want to stay within the rules? Here are some does and don’ts put together with the PSNI’s street collecting regulation in mind.
Apply for a permit from the PSNI
Street collections require a permit application to be made at the latest on the first day of the month proceeding the month in which the collection is to be held. Applications can only be made in the name of a committee or a body of three people or more. If successful, you will be bound to confine your collection to the day and times on the permit.
Display your credentials
Display your NI Charity Number, the name of the fund you’re collecting for and the date of the collection prominently on your materials. You should also have your permit to hand – and every collector should also carry written authorisation.
Submit your accounts within two months of the collection taking place
It is essential that, within two months of the collection happening, you submit accounts and other supporting documentation to the police station that issued your permit. ‘Supporting documentation’ should include the form detailing how much was received and relevant press cuttings. It’s important to keep good records in order to do this.
Check the ages of your volunteers
Collectors must be over 16 years of age.
Space out and stand still
You must stay at least 25 metres away from any other collector and you must stay in the same spot – allowing people to walk around you if they so wish
Collect with an open bucket
All money should be collected in a sealed, consecutively numbered collection box or receptacle. Containers should be sealed so that they cannot be broken without being obvious to the organiser. Donations must only go into a collection box – anyone without a box cannot be a collector.
Collect on roads or roundabouts
There’s an increasing trend for collecting at busy junctions or on roundabouts. This is not only intimidating to motorists but potentially deadly and is specifically banned in the regulations.
If someone doesn’t want to give then don’t pressure them. Similarly, if collecting on the pavement, you should take care not to create an obstruction.
Bring animals collecting
The regulations clearly state that no collector or vendor should be accompanied by an animal. This isn’t to say that animals can’t be present but they should be accompanied by someone who isn’t collecting. Guide Dogs are excepted from this rule.
You can’t pay your collectors, they must be collecting on a voluntary basis only.
Open your boxes without the named promoter there
Collection boxes must be opened and the contents counted in the presence of the promoter of the collection and two others who should count and record the amount received prior to banking it.
As outlined, the PSNI are responsible for regulating street collections, so if you’re in any doubt about the rules, then you are advised to get in touch with them. Please also bear in mind that different regulations apply to door-to-door collections, which we aim to cover here in due course.
Author: Neil Wilson
Neil is the Commission’s Communications Officer.