How to run a charity collection

Collecting money is the street is a hassle – but if you can handle all the paperwork involved, can be a good way to raise funds.  Collections at railway and tube stations are much easier to organise, and might be a better idea for most of us.  You can also try collecting at your local supermarket.

Collecting at National Rail stations

Registered charities can apply to hold a fundraising collection at National Rail stations (like Paddington, Charing Cross and Victoria, for example). 

  1. Read the guidelines to make sure your organisation is eligible
  2. Download and fill in the application form
  3. Download and fill in the indemnity form
  4. Find the contact for the station where you want to do the collection
  5. Send both forms to your chosen station contact

For more information, visit the Network Rail website

Collecting at London Underground stations

Registered charities can apply to do a charity collection at a London Underground station.

It’s a simple process:

  • Contact the London Underground Charities Team
  • Give details of your organisation, and your planned collection 
  • If your proposal is agreed, you’ll get a “letter of authority” which gives you permission to collect at specific stations on specific dates.

For more information, visit the Transport for London website

Street collections

Street charity collections are heavily regulated, and you might decide that it just isn’t worth the trouble.  The regulations include the following requirements:

  • All street collections need to be approved by the Metropolitan Police, who will issue a permit to collect on specific days in specific areas
  • If you’re collecting across London, you need to be able to have collectors in at least 20 of the 32 London boroughs
  • If you want to collect in just one borough, you need to get a letter of support from the mayor or chief executive of the council
  • Your collectors need to wear identification, and to use sealed collection boxes
  • You need to report back to the police on how much was collected
  • If you raise more than £400, you may need to get your collection witnessed by an accountant.

If you decide to go ahead with a street collection, all the information you need is on the Metropolitan Police website

Collecting at supermarkets

Tesco
There are two Tesco Metro supermarkets in and around Westminster (Covent Garden and Victoria).  Each store makes its own decisions about charity collections, so you need to contact the store directly if you want to do a collection.  Tesco Express stores do not allow charity collections. 

Waitrose

There are four Waitrose stores in the Westminster area (Porchester Road;  Edgware Road; Marylebone High Street; and Tottenham Court Road).  Waitrose doesn’t allow charity collections in its stores, but its Community Matters scheme donates between £500 and £1,000 a month to local charities.  Call in store to nominate your organisation for a share of the monthly donation. 

Read more about the Waitrose Community Matters scheme

Managing the money from public collections

The Charity Commission recommends that you have proper financial controls to ensure that money raised from collections is handled properly, and that you and your organisation are not open to any accusations of wrong-doing.

  •  At least two people should be involved in handling and recording the money received
  • Collection boxes are individually numbered and their issue and return is recorded
  • All collecting boxes are sealed before use so that it is apparent if they have been opened before they are returned
  • All collection boxes are regularly opened and the contents counted
  • General public collections are counted in the presence of the collectors and a numbered receipt given to them; and
  • Cash collected is banked by the charity as soon as possible without deduction of expenses.

For more information about your responsibilities in fundraising, read the Charity Commission publication Internal Financial Controls for Charities

Where can you get collection boxes and buckets?

There are lots of suppliers of collection boxes and buckets online.  We don’t have any specific recommendations, but you could try the following companies:

Voluntary Action Westminster is a registered charity (no. 1068824) and is registered as a company in England and Wales with company number 03518124.  Copyright Voluntary Action Westminster 2009

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