Charities: working with companies and professional fundraisers

How your charity can work with businesses and professional fundraisers to raise money or public awareness.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This information is covered in our guidance Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties (CC20).

Applies to England and Wales

Commercial partnerships

Your charity can enter into a commercial partnership to raise funds, for example with:

  • a retailer agreeing to donate a percentage from the sale of certain items to a charity
  • a credit card provider donating a percentage of each transaction to a charity

This can involve your charity’s name and logo being displayed on a product.

Any charity can work with a company, regardless of its size.

Benefits for charities working with companies

Working with a company could generate more income for your charity and help you to achieve your charity’s aims. Other benefits may include:

  • increased public awareness of your cause
  • media attention which could raise your popularity
  • access to the company’s resources, such as staff with specialist skills
  • encouraging more people to volunteer for you

Protect your charity’s name and reputation

Your charity’s name and reputation are valuable assets. A company could profit greatly from using your name through partnership with you.

You should take appropriate steps to protect your charity’s name, such as making sure you have the right to stop the company using your name in the future. You may need to consult a solicitor or similar professional adviser to understand the value of your name and how to protect it.

Partnering with a commercial organisation could affect your charity’s reputation. For example you should be wary of working with a company that has engaged in unethical trading as this may reflect badly on you.

Make sure you research any company before entering into an agreement with them.

Before entering into a partnership with a business, you should research whether the company:

  • has a history of supporting charity - were they successful previously?
  • is financially sound - can they prove this?
  • has similar values and ethics - do they match those of your charity?

Plan to work collaboratively

Working with another organisation in this way can lead to disagreements, where each party has a different approach to working. You should put plans in place for how to deal with potential areas of conflict, such as:

  • charity brand, names and logos - how they will be used
  • copyright, events, services and products - who owns these
  • roles and responsibilities - how they will be allocated
  • money - how it will be transferred between both parties
  • project success - how you will know you’ve achieved your goals

Professional fundraisers

Your charity may be aiming to reach a wider section of the public and increase its profile. If your charity lacks the resources or contacts to fundraise effectively, you could consider paying professional fundraisers to raise money on your behalf.

Fundraising businesses can offer:

  • trained street fundraisers
  • door-to-door collections
  • telephone marketing services
  • tailored direct mail campaigns

You should research each fundraising company carefully before deciding to work with one. This company will be representing you in public so it is important to:

  • get references from other charities - does the company have a good reputation?
  • ask how to pay - do you have to pay up-front and will you receive a fair portion of the funds raised?
  • check how the company trains employees - will staff be able to answer questions about your charity’s work?
  • research what other fundraisers can offer you - are you getting the best value?

You could also check if the professional fundraiser is a member of a respected sector body, such as the Fundraising Regulator or the Institute of Fundraising.

By law, you must have a written contract to work with a professional fundraiser or commercial partner. You might want to take professional advice before entering into such an agreement.

For further guidance, read:

The company you are working with should provide a solicitation statement to donors before money is handed over. This must clearly say that your charity will profit from the donation and how much you will receive.

Also read HM Revenue and Customs’ guidance on tax issues when working with other organisations.

Published 23 May 2013