The Charities Act Northern Ireland (2008), which established the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, has several provisions relating to fundraising, but none of these are currently in operation.
The Commission is tasked with increasing public trust and confidence in charities, promoting compliance by trustees with their legal obligations in exercising control and management in the administration of their charities, and promoting and encouraging the effective use of charitable resources.
The Commission will only typically get involved in a concern about a charity’s fundraising where there are issues such as:
- a breach of trust by the charity’s trustees
- damage to public trust and confidence in the charity or the sector;
- harm to the charity’s beneficiaries;
- mismanagement or misconduct by the charity’s trustees; and
- misappropriation of a charity’s funds.
Fundraising in Northern Ireland is subject to a complex mix of legislation and self-regulation, under the guidance and oversight of the Fundraising Regulator. In line with the House to House Charitable Collections Act (Northern Ireland) 1952, charities wishing to collect money or other property door-to-door (including the use of envelopes or black bags), in one or more areas of Northern Ireland, must obtain permission by applying to the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI). Where regular collections are to be carried out province wide, organisations may apply to the Department for Communities Charities Team, for an exemption order.
Each collector must have written authority from the person or organisation to whom a permit has been granted. The law requires each collector to show a badge and a copy of their permit signed by the collector. Age limits on collectors also apply. Any badges worn by collectors must meet the specifications set out in the House-to-House Charitable Collections Act (NI) 1952 and the Regulations and should:
- indicate the purpose of the collection; and
- be signed by the collector.
The Fundraising Code of Practice sets out the rules for public collections in Northern Ireland in more detail, and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) also provides detailed guidance on house-to house collections, street collections and running charity lotteries.
If you’ve reason to believe you’ve been approached by a bogus charity collector call the PSNI on 101.