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9.Fundraising communications and advertisements

Charitable institutions tell people about their cause in different ways. It’s important that your communications are appropriate to your audience and provide clear information so that donors can make an informed decision. This section covers standards related to marketing your campaign. It also includes standards for fundraising over the phone and by post (for emails and messages to mobile devices see section 10 Digital). 

For more standards relating to marketing communications to individuals, see section 3 Processing personal data (information).

9.1.General standards

In this section, ‘you’ means a charitable institution or third-party fundraiser. 

9.1.1.

You must meet the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code and BCAP (Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice) and make sure all advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful.

9.1.2.

You must be able to show that you have taken all reasonable steps to make sure that communications are suitable for the people they are aimed at.

9.1.3.

Your marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. You must take particular care to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability. This will vary according to the context, type of communication, audience, product and commonly accepted standards of decency at the time of the communication.

9.1.4.

Your marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause fear or distress without a justifiable reason. If you can justify it, the fear or distress likely to be caused must not be excessive.

9.1.5.

You must not use a claim or image that some people may find shocking merely to attract attention. If you use images that some people may find shocking, you should give warnings about this material.

9.1.6.

You must make sure literature includes all information that you have to include by law, for example, registered charity status or number, full company name and registered office if this applies.

For more standards on the information you need to include, see section 9.2 References in documents.

9.1.7.

If you are fundraising in partnership with one or more charitable institutions, you must state how the money will be split between the organisations.

9.1.8.

If you change any of the details in case studies or use real examples to inspire a case study, you must make this clear and you must be able to prove that the case study is representative of a real situation.

9.1.9.

You must be able to justify how often you contact people, balancing the need to communicate with not overwhelming or bombarding people.

9.1.10.

You must meet trademark and copyright law and make sure that you get permission to use images, logos and so on from the people or organisations who hold the rights to these.

Further requirements for England

9.1.11.

You must make sure that public advertisements for an event meet the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), the Control of Advertisements Regulations 2007 (as amended) issued under it, or the Highways Act 1980.

Further requirements for Scotland

9.1.12.

You must make sure that public advertisements meet the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984, as amended in 1992.

Further requirements for Northern Ireland

9.1.13.

You must make sure that public advertisements meet the Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations Northern Ireland 2015.

9.2.References in documents

In this section, ‘you’ means a charitable institution or third-party fundraiser, unless we tell you otherwise.  

General standards

Charitable institutions that are registered companies must meet the requirements under the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 as well as any charity law rules that apply in the country you are fundraising in.

9.2.1.

You must make sure that your business letters, order forms and website state:

  • your registered company’s full name (even if elsewhere you also use an abbreviated or ‘trading name’);
  • your company number;
  • the place of registration of your company (for example, England and Wales or Scotland);
  • the address of your registered office (if more than one address is mentioned, it must be clear which is the registered office); and 
  • that the charitable institution is a limited company if your name does not include the word ‘Limited’.

If the names of your directors are included on your company letterhead (which is not compulsory), you must name all the directors.

9.2.2.

You must also give your company’s full registered name on all notices and other official publications, all cheques, bills of exchange, promissory notes (a signed document promising to pay a stated amount to a certain person on a stated date or when asked) and endorsements, all orders for money, goods or services, all invoices and other demands for payment, receipts and credit notes, all applications for licences to carry out a trade or activity, and all other types of business correspondence and documents.

Further requirements for England and Wales

9.2.3.

If you are a registered charity with a gross income of over £10,000 in the last financial year, you must state that your charity is registered on all fundraising notices, advertisements and documents issued by you or on your behalf. 

9.2.4.

If you are a registered company, you must include your company number, place of registration (for example, England and Wales) and the address of your registered office if the fundraising material takes the form of a business letter or is published on your website. As a registered company, you must give the name of the charity on all fundraising materials that are produced in any of the following forms.

  • Business letters
  • Notices and other official publications
  • Bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods signed on behalf of the charity
  • Any documents relating to selling or buying an interest in land
  • Bills, invoices, receipts and letters of credit
9.2.5.

If you are a registered company and your name does not include the word ‘Limited’, you must also include a statement that you are a limited company on all business correspondence.

Further requirements for Scotland

9.2.6.

If you are a charity registered in Scotland, you must meet the Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Regulations 2007. If you are a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), you must meet section 52 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations Regulations 2011 in relation to the statements you make.

9.2.7.

If you are a charity registered in Scotland, you must give the following information in your documents. 

  • Your full name and any other name you commonly use.
  • Your Scottish charity number. 
  • If your name does not include ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’, you must state that you are a charity.
9.2.8.

You must state the above information in all business letters, emails, advertisements, notices, official publications, any document asking for money or other property for the charity, promissory notes, endorsements, orders for money or goods, bills, invoices, receipts, letters of credit, statutory accounts, educational or campaign documents, documents which create, transfer, vary or remove an interest in land, contracts and bills of exchange (except cheques), and on the home page of your website.

9.2.9.

You must use the term ‘charity’, ‘charitable body’, ‘registered charity’, or ‘charity registered in Scotland’. The terms ‘Scottish charity’ and ‘registered Scottish charity’ must only be used for charities established in Scotland or which are fully or mainly managed or controlled in Scotland.

9.2.10.

If you are an SCIO, the information must include your full name and, if your name does not include your legal status, you must state that you are an SCIO. You must state your charity number and, when stating that you are an SCIO, you must write ‘Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation' in full rather than using ‘SCIO’.

9.2.11.

The above standards apply to documents which are issued or signed by others on your behalf as well as by you. All charities registered in Scotland must meet these standards no matter what their size or income. However, new charities (other than SCIOs) do not have to keep to this standard for the first six months.

9.2.12.

Scottish charitable companies must meet section 112(6) of the Companies Act 1989. If your name does not include ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’, you must reveal your charitable status on all business letters, all notices and other official publications, all bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques, orders for money or goods signed by or on your behalf, all agreements to transfer property from one owner to another which you have signed, all bills of parcels, invoices, receipts, and credit notes. Unlike the charity law rules, this also applies to cheques. Any person acting on behalf of a charitable company who issues a cheque without this statement is committing an offence and will be personally liable for the amount due on the cheque if you do not honour it.

Further requirements for Northern Ireland

9.2.13.

If you are a registered charity you must state that your charity is registered on all fundraising notices, advertisements and documents issued by you or on your behalf. This includes the following. 

  • Notices and other official publications
  • Bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods signed on behalf of the charity
  • Bills, invoices, receipts and letters of credit
9.2.14.

If you are a registered company, you must include your company number, place of registration (for example, Northern Ireland) and the address of your registered office if the fundraising material takes the form of a business letter or is published on your website. As a registered company, you must give the name of the charity on all fundraising materials that are produced in any of the following forms.

  • Business letters
  • Notices and other official publications
  • Bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods signed on behalf of the charity
  • Any documents relating to selling or buying an interest in land
  • Bills, invoices, receipts and letters of credit
9.2.15.

If you are a registered company and your name does not include the word ‘Limited’, you must also include a statement that you are a limited company on all business correspondence.

9.3.Fundraising by mail

In this section, ‘you’ means a charitable institution or third-party fundraiser. 

9.3.1.

As well as keeping to standards in Section 3 Processing personal data (information), you must not send direct marketing mailings to people who have registered with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) if you cannot show any evidence of a previous relationship with that person.

9.3.2.

You must consider whether a person has registered with the MPS as part of your assessment as to whether you have a legitimate interest if you are planning to process a person’s data for direct marketing purposes under the legitimate interest condition.

Enclosures

9.3.3.

You must be able to prove that the purpose of an enclosure was to strengthen the message or to involve the person emotionally in the cause, and not to encourage them to donate mainly because of financial guilt or to cause embarrassment. 

For more standards on offering incentives to donors, see section 2.7 Using funds.

9.3.4.

You must consider whether any enclosures are safe for the person receiving them.

9.3.5.

You must not use enclosures that might cause inconvenience when delivering them, unless the donor knows about them or has asked for them.

9.4.Fundraising by telephone

In this section, ‘you’ means a charitable institution or third-party fundraiser. 

This section includes all fundraising calls and voicemails that are made to ask for financial and other types of donations, such as volunteering time. It does not include administrative calls (although you can use these standards as guidance for those calls).

For more standards on the requirements relating to working with third-party fundraisers, see section 7 Professional fundraisers, commercial participators and partners.

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) allow people or companies to register their phone numbers to show that they do not want to receive ‘unsolicited’ sales and marketing phone calls (that is, calls they have not requested).

9.4.1.

If you are carrying out live fundraising phone calls, you must be able to show that you are meeting the legal requirements of the TPS.

9.4.2.

You must not make marketing phone calls to the following people.

9.4.3.

You must have a written agreement in place which states that subcontractors must meet relevant data protection legislation and PECR.

9.4.4.

You must not call anyone using an automated dialling system unless that person has agreed to this.

9.4.5.

You must not call anyone you know is under the age of 16.

9.4.6.

You must not generate telephone fundraising calls by dialling random numbers, whether dialling is done manually or by computer.

9.4.7.

You must not claim that marketing calls are administrative calls.

Direct marketing rules do not apply to calls which are only for administrative purposes (for example, to confirm bank details or that a payment has been received). However, you should make sure that no marketing is included in these communications.

Further guidance
  • Fundraising Regulator: Quick Guide to TPS Compliance − for guidance on when to check TPS and keeping records on this
  • Information Commissioner’s Office: Direct Marketing guidance − for guidance on the difference between administrative and direct marketing purposes.

During the call

9.4.8.

You must make every fundraising call using a phone number which can be identified by the person receiving it and which they can return the call to.  

For more standards on the requirements for telephone fundraisers under the GDPR and PECR, see section 3 Processing personal data (information). You should read the following standards along with the requirements highlighted in that section.

9.4.9.

You must not make automated phone calls to people unless you have their consent.

9.4.10.

You must not make calls after 9pm, except to people who have asked you to call after this time.

9.4.11.

You must give your name and the name of the charitable institution you are fundraising for when making a direct marketing call.

9.4.12.

If the phone call is your first contact with a donor, you must ask if they are happy for you to contact them at that time. If they ask you not to call again, you must not do so.

9.4.13.

If the person asks for one, you must provide a valid business address or freephone number that they can use to contact you.

9.4.14.

If you use a professional fundraiser to ask for donations by phone, they must give the identity of the charitable institution they are making the call for, along with a solicitation statement.

For more standards on solicitation statements by professional fundraisers, see section 7.4 Solicitation (disclosure) statements for paid third-party fundraisers and commercial participators.

9.4.15.

You must avoid persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service to contact donors (including making silent or abandoned calls).

9.4.16.

You must make clear that you are asking for financial or other types of support.

9.4.17.

You must not ask for a financial contribution more than three times during a fundraising phone call.

9.4.18.

You must make the purpose of the call clear if you are leaving a voicemail.

For more standards on what must be included in any fundraising materials you send as a result of a phone call, see section 9.2 References in documents.

Further guidance