To be perfectly frank, as it currently stands, the licensing of F2F fundraising is a bit of a dog’s dinner. Charity cash collections on the street – they type usually done by volunteer ‘tin rattlers’ – need a licence from the council (or the police in London) under a rather arcane act of Parliament that dates back to 1916.
However, an issue arises when determining whether F2F street fundraising is covered by this act – the Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 – since the act states specifically that licences are required for collections of money, whereas Direct Debits are not considered to be money in law: they are ‘promises of money’ at a later date.
This is explained in much greater detail in the section on the 1916 Act.
F2F conducted door-to-door by visiting householders is covered by a completely different act, the House-to-House Collections Act 1939. Unlike 1916, 1939 is generally held to cover F2F Direct Debit fundraising because it states that a licence is required for the collection of ‘money or other property’.
Other types of F2F (such as that done at festivals or in the workplace) do not require any form of police or council licence – just the permission of the site owner. And, at the moment, neither does ‘prospecting’ – the type of ‘two-step’ F2F activity where a campaigner will collect names on the street for a follow-up telephone call a week or two later.
Both the 1916 and the 1939 Acts are scheduled to be repealed and replaced by Part 3 of the Charities Act 2006, which contains a new unified licensing regime for both cash and direct debit collections on the street. However, doorstep collections (money and Direct Debits) will no longer require a licence of any kind. [The Charities Act 1992, which the 2006 Act replaces, also contained a unified licensing regime, but this section of the act was never enacted and so never became law.]
Some of the Charities Act 2006 is already in force. However, the government is still consulting on how to implement the section containing the new licensing regime.