Best Practice for Fundraising from the Public

The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) has issued a fresh warning about bogus charity collectiors operating across Ireland, following a recent incident in which they had received calls from two different parties in the Longford area who said that they wanted to fundraise on behalf of the organisation. In particular, both parties (two different families, in this case) claimed to be fundraising for the mini marathon and so were sent out fundraising t-shirts and cards in the usual manner. It was subsequently discovered (through calls received from members of the public) that these fundraising items were being used in different localities around Kildare and County Dublin in an unauthorised way. 

IMNDA investigated the matter further and also contacted the GardaĆ­. Tthe two families in question were already known to the GardaĆ­, who also confiscated some of the fundraising items. However, IMNDA is nevertheless still receiving calls from its members who report that the two families are continuing to fundraise for the mini marathon (IMNDA has checked with the Flora mini marathon organisers and none of these individuals are registered for the event). (It turns out that IMNDA is not the only charity to have been contacted by these particular parties - MS Ireland has also apparently been contacted by the families in question for similar purposes.)

Actions for All Fundraisers to Take

Working with volunteer fundraisers is of course an essential (and desirable) part of the fundraising programme for so many charities these days. Indeed, without the help of so many volunteers, the incredible work that so many Irish charities do would be virtually impossible. However, due to a few isolated incidents - such as those described above - it is obviously advisable for charities to take a few sensible precautions when working with volunteers these days. This not only will ensure the integrity of your fundraising efforts, but can also serve to reassure the public that you are operating in the most efficient and professional manner. 

Luckily, a very reliable and comprehensive set of guidelines already exists for Irish fundraisers, in the form of the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising. This code of practice (an initiative of ICTR) for Irish fundraisers provides guidance primarily through a series of practical advice factsheets in a number of key areas, including Cash and Non-Cash Donation Handling

This particular factsheet includes the following advice for relations with volunteers:

  • Volunteer cash handlers are given clear instructions from which to work.
  • All volunteer cash handlers have appropriate documentation from the charity authorising them to handle cash (such as an ID card, letter of authorisation).
  • Volunteer cash handlers should be supervised by a charity staff member where possible.
  • Try to verify the competence and integrity of volunteer cash handlers in advance; where possible take up references. 
  • Where children are collecting money (for example, sponsored swims, bag-packing etc.) they are accompanied at all times by an adult, and the relevant documentation (sponsorship cards) in regard to pledged monies should be available for inspection by the sponsors. 
  • It is illegal for children under 14 years to take part in cash collections (Street and House to House Collections Act 1962 as amended). 
  • Ensure that adequate insurance cover is in place and that cash handlers understand and follow the conditions of that cover.

The factsheet also provides advice in the area of banking; reconciliation; petty cash floats; cash handling and events; relations with donors etc. 

The Wheel strongly recommends that all charities / fundraisers (particularly those fundraising from the public) sign up for the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising.