Charity Collections In The Street

Its time to hit the streets

Street based charity collections are not every volunteers favourite fundraiser.

They do however bring in the cash and are a great way of raising the profile of your organisation or good cause.

Choosing the right location

The choice of location for your street collection is extremely important in order to maximise the number of passers-by / potential donors. Town centres and high streets are best along with shopping malls.

You may need to check with the local authority whether permission for charity collections is needed (it usually is). Some larger supermarkets will also allow charity collections outside their stores but do seek permission first as many operate a waiting list of groups wishing to run collections. If undertaking a collection at a supermarket do follow any specific guidelines and be polite to customers. The stores will not take kindly to you giving their customers a hard time.

These 2 veterans have secured a prime spot. London Victoria Train Station during the rush hour. Their medals and berets made them really stand out.

Picking the right day and time

Choosing a good date is important. Avoid holidays and other times when people (and your own volunteers) are likely to be busy or when other collections are likely to be taking place. Timing is also important and should depend on your location but also when you are likely to be able to muster the required volunteers.

Street collection licence

Collecting for charity in the street

For most street charity collections it will be necessary to obtain a licence from the local authority.

In the UK, for instance, it is illegal to hold a street collection to collect money or sell articles for the benefit of a charity in any public place without one.

It is often assumed that collections held in shop doorways or car parks do not need a Street Collection Licence because they are being held on 'privately owned land'.

This is not true. A shop doorway or carpark, when that shop is open for trading, is a 'public place' because the public has access at that time.

In the USA and other countries different rules may apply please check with your local authority.

As much as anything else a licence system should prevent you clashing with other collectors.

Finding the right volunteers and making their job easier

As mentioned previously volunteering to rattle a tin is not within every supporters comfort zone. You can make life easier for them by having a clear rota for the collection with volunteers signing up for just an hour each before being relieved.

This is not a job for shrinking violets however and you need enthusiastic and friendly volunteers who don't mind "standing up for the cause" - Street collections require a positive attitude.

The reverse of this is also true however. You should beware of the over-enthusiastic tin rattler who chases people up the street and will probably do your organisation more harm than good.

charity street collection

The best approach is to be positioned in a good spot with plenty of passing traffic so as you are close enough to solicit contributions without getting in the way of people going about their normal business.

A great way to help your collectors is to have clear posters up explaining exactly who you are and what you do. Make sure also that your supporters are well briefed on your organisation and exactly where any money raised will be going.

Remember also that a picture tells a thousand words so if you have good images set up a display board and use them. Its much easy to approach someone with your collecting tin if they have stopped to look at what you do.

Offering flags, stickers or balloons to children is another way to minimise the "embarrassment factor" of asking for donations.

It also is a good way to engage with parents who might be more likely to put their hand in their pocket for something for their children (even if it is only a sticker). Its also easier for volunteers to ask "would you like to buy a flag" than simply rattling a tin.

A good organiser should be on hand to lend collectors moral support. A friendly word of appreciation, the offer of a sweet a quick check they are ok every so often, can really make all the difference.

Show your appreciation - Don't forget also to let all volunteers know the exact total raised as soon as possible after the event. A quick phone call or thank you note with the total is really important.

Dressing up

Dressing up can add to the fun and bring in extra cash

Sometimes you don't have to say anything much at all......

The Chelsea Pensioners live at a home for ex-service men and women in London. Their colourful uniforms always make them stand out and they are a much loved part of the city community wherever they go.

Their uniforms and medals also provide the perfect outfit for fundraising and tell you everything you need to know in an instant.

Fundraising for Homeless Shelter

A simple smile works wonders

This nun is raising funds for London homeless persons charity The Passage at Victoria Station.

Lots of passing trade and her lovely smile. Who could resist?

For others a simple bit of dressing up will do.

Here fundraisers are dressed as the characters from popular UK TV Comedy Only Fools and Horses to raise money for a Multiple Sclerosis Charity. The Van from the series draws attention while the fundraisers work the crowd.

MS Fundraiser

Other information

You should always have flyers about your organisation ready to hand for people who want more information. Charity collections in the street are great for profile raising and finding some new volunteers for your organisation. So don't miss the opportunity for lack of a pen and paper!


Taking care of the money

Any money collected should go into closed and sealed tins and it is definitely worth investing in or borrowing official charity collecting tins in order to reassure people that you are above board and professional. The collection tins should later be opened and counted in the presence of two or more people.

Street Charity Collections - Quick Checklist
  • Permission and a licence if required.
  • Lots of good enthusiastic volunteers.
  • A good organiser to plan the rota and keep volunteers motivated.
  • Printed information about your organisation easily to hand.
  • Sealed collecting boxes clearly identified with the name and logo of your organisation.
  • Stickers, flags, balloons or tokens to offer people in return for their donation.
  • A display about your organisation - the more pictures the better.
  • A proper system for opening the collecting tins and counting and banking the cash.

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