accessibility & help

Legal issues

Woman putting a donation into a fundraising bucket© InfoThere are a number of different laws and regulations governing how people can collect or fundraise for a charity. These are designed to protect volunteer fundraisers and the public from fraud.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding your fundraising and the law, please contact your local fundraiser. Please also remember that the law may be different in different parts of the UK, your local fundraiser can advise on the relevant rules.

Registered charity numbers 

Red Cross emblem 

Private premises collections 

House-to-house collections 

Lotteries 

Alcohol 

Further information

When you are fundraising for the British Red Cross, you are representing an international humanitarian organisation, so we ask you to comply with our fundraising rules, the relevant laws and regulations and be guided by our fundamental principles in all that you do.

Registered charity numbers

On all printed materials you use, including letters, tickets and posters, you must state that "The British Red Cross Society, incorporated by Royal Charter 1908, is a charity registered in England and Wales (220949) and Scotland (SC037738)".

Red Cross emblem

The emblem of a red cross on a white background is an internationally agreed symbol of protection during armed conflicts and there are strict rules governing its use. Please do not use it in any printed materials without contacting your local fundraiser for clarification.

The use of the words ‘Red Cross’ is also protected by law.

Private premises collections

To collect on private property such as a pub that’s not part of a chain, a supermarket, or train station, you only need the permission of the owner or manager of the outlet.

Many private premises owners have strict rules on the number of collections per charity, so please speak to your local fundraiser to ensure that no planned collections are jeopardised.

House-to-house collections

The British Red Cross limits house-to-house cash collections to Red Cross Appeal Week in early May. There are separate rules for house-to-house collections for England and Wales and for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A house-to-house collection includes door-to-door visits to people’s homes, public buildings (such as chain pubs), offices and factories to appeal for money, other items (such as clothes), or to sell items in aid of charity.

The Red Cross has a house-to-house licence exemption order for England and Wales, and Scotland and Northern Ireland, so you do not need to obtain a licence. However, there are certain rules, regulations and procedures that must be followed.

As a holder of an exemption order, the British Red Cross is in a relatively privileged position and it is recognised that this brings responsibilities that should be fulfilled. Your local Red Cross fundraiser can tell you more about this.

Lotteries

A standard form of fundraising at many events is the sale of raffle tickets or scratch cards, or a tombola or prize draw. These are all forms of lotteries and are regulated by the law. The summary of the law below is that in England, Wales and Scotland; there is different lottery law in Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Though the British Red Cross is licensed by the Gambling Commission, lotteries are complex and it’s important that we do not inadvertently break the law, therefore if you wish to run one on behalf of the British Red Cross, please first contact us at getfundraising@redcross.org.uk or speak to your local Red Cross fundraiser.

Incidental non-commercial lottery

Certain types of lottery are exempt from licensing. The only types of lottery that can legally be run on behalf of British Red Cross by members of the public and volunteer fundraisers are incidental non-commercial lotteries and private lotteries. These include raffles, duck races and tombolas. These lotteries must, by law, only be conducted in a certain way:

  • They must be held at a non-commercial event such as a charity fundraising event, a private party or a work dinner. All lotteries must be run solely for charitable purposes. An event will not be a non-commercial event if any sums raised by the organisers of the event are kept for private gain (e.g. if a fee is charged to attend the event and the organisers keep all or part of that fee). Other people, such as the owners of the venue, may, of course, make a profit at such an event.
  • Tickets must only be sold during the event and at the venue where the event is taking place.
  • Prizes must not be rolled over.
  • The raffle draw must be drawn during the event and prize-winners must be announced during the event.
  • No more than £100 may be deducted from the proceeds to cover the expenses of running the lottery.
  • No more than £500 may be deducted from the proceeds for prizes.

Private lotteries

There are three types of “private lottery” which qualify as exempt namely a private society lottery, work lottery and a residents’ lottery. For these lotteries the following requirements must be met:

  • The sale of tickets must be confined to employees of one company on the same premises, members of the society or any other person on its premises or residents who live on the same premises.
  • The lottery can only be advertised in a notice on the relevant premises. The price of all tickets must be the same and should be stated on the tickets.
  • Every ticket must state the promoter’s name and address and a statement that the sale of the tickets is restricted to the relevant persons.
  • Only expenses for printing and stationery can be deducted from the proceeds.
  • For employees’ or residents’ lotteries all of the proceeds are to be spent on prizes. However, one of the prizes could be a donation to charity.

Alcohol

If you want to sell alcoholic drinks at your event and the venue is not already licensed, you will need to speak to your local Red Cross fundraiser who can advise you on how to obtain a licence.

Further information

If you have any other questions, please contact your local Red Cross fundraiser for more information or email us at getfundraising@redcross.org.uk

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