Charity Fundraising Code of Practice, Regulators And UK Law

A simple guide to the Fundraising Code of Practice, UK fundraising laws and regulations, including the rules on collecting money and donating to charity.

Charity Fundraising Code of Practice, Regulators and UK Law

The Charity Fundraising Code of Practice reflects the requirements of a range of UK fundraising laws and regulations, not just the rules issued by the Fundraising Regulator.  Here is a simple explanation of the Fundraising Code of Practice and the various fundraising regulators to provide an oversight of the main UK fundraising laws, including raising money for a charity, can you fundraise without being a charity, can a charity donate to another charity, collecting funds and the rules on donations for charities.

The Charity Fundraising Code of Practice

What is the Fundraising Code of Practice?  The Fundraising Code of Practice sets the standards that apply to UK fundraising.

Who does the Fundraising Code apply to?  The Fundraising Code applies to all charitable institutions and third-party fundraisers in the UK.

Is the Code of Practice UK fundraising law?  The Fundraising Code includes standards that reflect the Law, but it is not a legal handbook. UK fundraising law is complex and comes from many sources.

What are the core values of the Fundraising Code of Practice?  The following four values support all standards in the fundraising code.

  • Legal: All fundraising must meet the requirements of the law.
  • Open: Fundraisers must be open with the public about their processes and must be willing to explain (where appropriate) if they are asked for more information.
  • Honest: Fundraisers must act with integrity and must not mislead the public about the cause they are fundraising for or the way a donation will be used.
  • Respectful: Fundraisers must demonstrate respect whenever they have contact with any member of the public.

Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator is the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Its fundraising regulations largely reflect those of the Charity Commission E&W in that the main duty of trustees is to advance the purposes of the charity, act in the charity’s best interest and that the charity’s assets and resources are only used for the purposes for which the charity was set up. This extends to the charity's fundraising activities.  Here's the detailed Fundraising Regulator guidance.

Fundraising Regulator Scotland

In Scotland, fundraising regulation is overseen by the Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel, in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice.


Charities are subject to a whole range of UK laws and regulations, so it's not really possible to produce a definitive list.  However, here are some you should know about.

Charity Commission - Rules on Donations and Trustee Fundraising Role

The Charity Commission E&W issues guidance rules on donations and also CC20, which provides guidance on charity trustee fundraising responsibilities. It lays out 6 key principles.

  1. Planning effectively.
  2. Supervising your fundraisers.
  3. Protecting your charity’s reputation, money and other assets.
  4. Identifying and ensuring compliance with the laws or regulations that apply specifically to your charity’s fundraising.
  5. Identifying and following any recognised standards that apply to your charity’s fundraising.
  6. Being open and accountable.

If you're in Scotland or Northern Ireland, your charity regulators are OSCR and CCNI.

Fundraising Regulator - Donations and Tax

HMRC - the most important for us is securing Gift Aid for fundraising donations but there is wide ranging relevant tax regulation, including areas such as legacies and fundraising events.  They have a charities and CASC helpline and online contact form.

Fundraising Regulator - Data Protection

Information Commissioner's Office - anything to do with the personal data of those making donations, so you should know about basic data protection, including consent.  They have various ways you can contact them, including a helpline.

Less Well Known Fundraising Regulators

Gambling Regulator - Fundraising Lotteries And Raffles.  The Gambling Commission regulates lotteries, raffles, 100 clubs etc.  They have a helpline and online contact form.

Fundraising Advertising Regulation.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.

Fundraising Communications Regulation.  Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day, such as the postal service, mobile phones and online.

Fundraising Licences And Permissions.  You need also to be mindful of licences and permissions for events and collections, such as street collections.  It's usually best to speak to your local council to find out which apply in your area.


If you have a detailed query about charity fundraising laws, legal requirements or regulations, click the AI Bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen.  Ask it short questions, including key words.  The AI bunnies can answer between 10k and 20k questions on any aspect of running a non profit, including finding funding and policy templates.  Here are some common ones.

Can You Legally Fundraise Without Being A UK Charity?

People frequently run their own fundraisers for medical treatment or to meet other needs, which is OK, as long as you do not claim to be a charity and the funding raised is spent for the purpose for which you said you were raising it.  However, there is no doubt that being a charity will make raising money through fundraising far better.  And although many don't realise, you don't need to be registered with the Charity Commission to be a charity in law.  If you’re think of starting a registered, or unregistered charity, you'll find everything you need in my charity start-up toolbox.

Can A Charity Donate To Another Charity?

Although not always that well understood a charity can donate to another charity, or even other kinds of non profit and, in some circumstances, even private companies.  However, the donation must fall within your charitable objects, be in the best interests of your charity, may only be used for exclusively charitable purposes and meet the public benefit requirement. You can find more detail on this in my example grant making policy.

What Are The UK Fundraising Laws For Raising Money For A UK Charity?

You may not claim to be raising money of collecting funds for a UK charity unless you have the charity's permission to do so and organisations that are not charities, such as CICs, may not claim to be charities. Fundraising law is complex and comes from many sources. However, whilst the Charity Fundraising Code of Practice is not a legal handbook, it includes standards that reflect the Law and should be followed by all fundraisers.

Do You Need a Licence or Permission to Collect Money for a Charity?

Depending on how you are collecting money you may need a licence, such as street collections and door to door fundraising (from your local authority) and you will need permission, if you are raising funds in or on private property, such as a supermarket.

Other UK Fundraising Regulation FAQs

Who investigates fundraising complaints? The Fundraising Regulator investigates fundraising complaints where these cannot be resolved by organisations themselves or there is a risk of significant public harm.
What is the difference between the Fundraising Regulator and the Charity Commission?  Complaints about poor fundraising practice are dealt with in the Fundraising Regulator self-regulatory system but the Commission can and does intervene in some cases involving fundraising concerns.
What is the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS)? The FPS Fundraising Preference Service is free and enables you to manage direct marketing communications by addressed mail, emails, text messages or phone calls from registered charities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What is the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)?  The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the official 'Do Not Call' register for landline and mobile numbers. It allows people and businesses to opt out of unsolicited live sales and marketing calls. It's free to register a telephone number.
What is fundraising self reporting?  If you are aware of a potential breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice at a fundraising organisation, you can report this using the Fundraising Regulator self reporting system but you must have the authority of the board or senior management to do so.

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