Direct debit fundraising

Find out about direct debit fundraising or face-to-face collections.

Direct debit fundraising is carried out by professional fundraising companies with paid staff. They work either in the street or door-to-door.

How face-to-face fundraising is regulated

While a Street collections permit is required for collecting money on the streets, direct debits are not considered to be money in law: they are 'promises of money' at a later date. Direct debit collections on the street do not therefore require any licence or permit.

However, face-to-face fundraising carried out door-to-door by visiting householders is required to be licensed as house-to-house collections cover the collection of 'money or other property'. In these circumstances, a House-to-house collections  licence is required.

Other types of face-to-face fundraising for direct debits (such as that done at festivals or in the workplace) do not require any form of licence - just the permission of the site owner. And, at the moment, neither does 'prospecting' - a type of 'two-step' face-to-face activity where a campaigner will collect names on the street for a follow-up telephone call a week or two later.

The laws regulating charitable collections are to be replaced by Part 3 of the Charities Act 2006, which contains a new unified licensing regime for both cash and direct debit collections on the street. However, the government is still consulting on how to implement this.

Face-to-face fundraising standards

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) provides a code of practice for all forms of direct debit face-to-face fundraising.

If a professional fundraiser is signing up direct debits for a charity, in a public place, they must:

  • Give the name of the appeal or charity
  • Mention that they are not a charity but a company
  • Say what percentage is taken for wages
  • Say what percentage is taken by the company
  • Say what percentage goes to the charity
 
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