Charitable collections policy

House to house collections

House to house collections involve the collection of either money or items directly from a person’s property. They are a vital source of funds for many charities as they offer a positive opportunity for the public to support charities. However, they need to be carried out for the benefit of the charity and in accordance with the law.

There has been an increase in the number of bogus house to house collectors in the last few years and as such it is vital that licences are issued to legitimate applicants. This can give the public confidence that if the collection is licensed an adequate proportion of their donations are being given to the appropriate charity.

House to house collections are currently regulated by the House to House collections Act 1939 and the House to House Collections Regulations 1947. These regulations are attached as Appendix two.

As a general rule, house to house collections for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes, whether or not the purpose is charitable within the meaning of the rule of law, are required to be licensed by us as the licensing authority.

There are national exemption orders that are available to charities who have undertaken a high number of collections across local authority areas nationally in the preceding two years. Exemption certificates are issued by the Cabinet Office directly and allow an organisation to collect in the district without applying for a licence from us. The organisation will not be exempted from the regulations or provisions of the act and the organisation must inform us of the dates and wards of any planned collections.

General principles

  • Charities must be registered with the Charity Commission or be a charitable organisation based within Lichfield District or providing support to residents of Lichfield District.
  • Applications must be on behalf of charitable organisations. Applications from private companies for commercial reasons will not be considered.
  • We will only allow one house to house collection in any one area at any one given time.
  • We will only allow an organisation to collect on six occasions per calendar year.
  • The maximum duration of any one collection will not exceed two weeks.
  • No collection shall be made other than on the time period specified on the permit.
  • Charities should not collect from households displaying no cold calling cards or in cold calling zones.
  • No collection shall be made in a manner likely to inconvenience or annoy any person
  • No collector shall pester any person to the annoyance of such a person.
  • When granting a licence for a house to house collection, we must be satisfied the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a house to house collection licence. In deciding whether an applicant is fit and proper where there are convictions/cautions, we will take into consideration the following:
    • Whether the conviction is relevant
    • The seriousness of the offence
    • In accordance with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the length of time since the offence occurred
    • Whether there is a pattern of offending behaviour
    • Whether that person’s circumstances have changed since the offence occurred, and the circumstances surrounding the offence and the explanation offered by that person

Application procedure

  • Applications are to be made in writing no later than one month before the collection is due to take place, this period may be reduced if we are satisfied there are special reasons for doing so.
  • Applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis.
  • Failure to provide the necessary information may result in an application being delayed or refused.
  • Anyone wishing to conduct a house to house collection must complete the relevant application form.
  • Applicants must supply information relating to:
    • Whether it is a registered charity (please state number), and the objectives of the charitable cause as supplied to the Charity Commission
    • A statement of the organisations aims as detailed in any literature
    • Details of the history of the organisation, i.e. when formed, names of trustees, directors, organisers etc.
    • Relevant accounts and financial statements of the organisation.
    • A written agreement between the applicant and organisation
    • A declaration of any previous refusals for house to house collections
  • Applicants must also provide details of the following:
    • How much the charity will receive as part of the collection
    • The percentage of the cost of running the collection
  • If the organisation has operated collections before a clear set of returns must be supplied.
  • We may, in granting a permit, limit the collection to such streets or areas or such parts thereof as it thinks fit and specified on the permit. We have a number of no uninvited traders zones. Any applications that are granted a house to house to collection permit these streets will be excluded from that permit.
  • Applicants will need to complete a declaration of convictions and submit this along with any application for a house to house collection licence.
  • Within one month after the date of any collection the person to whom a permit has been granted shall forward to us:
    • A statement in the form set out in the schedule to these regulations, or in a form to the like effect, showing the amount received and the expenses and payments and payments incurred in connection with such collection and certified by that person and a member of the receiving charity in the form of a letter headed response
    • List of collectors
    • List of the amounts collected in each collecting box
  • We may refuse to grant a licence or, where a licence has been granted, revoke that licence where is appears to us that:
    • The total amount likely to be given for charitable purposes as the result of the collection (including any amount already given) is inadequate in proportion to the value of the proceeds likely to be received (including any proceeds already received)
    • That the remuneration by any person is excessive in relation to the total amount received or likely to be received
    • The grant of a licence would be likely to facilitate the commission of an offence under section three of the Vagrancy Act 1824, or that an offence under that section has been committed in connection with the collection
    • The applicant or the holder of the licence is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence by reason of the fact that he has been convicted in the United Kingdom of any of the offences specified in the schedule to this act, or has been convicted in any part of Her Majesty’s dominions of any offence conviction for which necessarily involved a finding that he acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or of an offence of a kind the commission of which would be likely to be facilitated by the grant of a licence
    • The applicant or the holder of the licence, in promoting a collection in respect of which a licence has been granted to him, has failed to exercise due diligence to secure that persons authorised by him to act as collectors for the purposes of the collection were fit and proper persons, to secure compliance on the part of persons so authorised with the provisions of regulations made under this act, or to prevent prescribed badges or prescribed certificates of authority being obtained by persons other than persons so authorised or
    • The applicant or holder of the licence has refused or neglected to furnish to the authority such information as they may have reasonably required for the purpose of informing themselves as to any of the matters specified in the foregoing paragraphs.
  • In addition, any action taken as a result of not complying with regulations on operating house to house collections would also be grounds for refusal, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  • In order for us to be confident that the amount being given to charity is proportionate, the financial information provided on the application form and on any returns has to be detailed and accurate. Failure to provide detailed and accurate financial information may result in an application being refused or delayed.
  • In deciding whether the amount given to charity is proportionate, we will use the following as a guideline:
    • We understand there are costs associated with organising and carrying out a house to house collection. However, the costs associated with any one collection need to be balanced against the perception of the public that all of the items or money they donate will be given to charity. Therefore, we will consider refusing an application where less than 80% of the value of the collection is being donated to the charity named in the application.
    • It is also common practice for collectors to be paid by organisations to collect money and products. When determining the remuneration and whether it is excessive, the nature of the business and the overheads should be taken into account and balanced against the amount being given to the charity. The salaries received by directors and key employees should also be considered as part of this assessment. Therefore we will give consideration to refusing an application where the amount of remuneration is greater than 20% of the value of the collection.
  • If no previous returns have been supplied to us after previous licensed collections then any further applications are likely to be refused.
  • Any person aggrieved by the refusal to grant a licence or by the revocation of a licence already granted, may appeal against the decision within fourteen days of the date of the notice of refusal or revocation, as shown on the notice. Any appeal must be made to the relevant Secretary of State.