Nathan Archer, from the children’s house consultancy, guides you through the regulations relating to managing any money that you have raised from outside sources, and reminds you of the legalities surrounding local fundraising.

Whether you are a large social enterprise nursery or a voluntary pre-school, applying for funding or fundraising is likely to figure prominently in your activities.

Managing your funds

External funding can range from a charitable donation of a few hundred pounds to the larger sums which have recently been available through Lottery distributors. Guidelines on how, when and on what funding is spent varies enormously according to each fund, although there are some overarching principles to bear in mind.

Do what it says in the contract

There will invariably be a contract between you and the funder to ensure that you spend the funds as you say you will and to secure outcomes or outputs to meet the funder’s aims. These might be creating new childcare places or offering training to parents but it is important that these are met or clawback of the funding may occur.

Record keeping

To ensure you meet the obligations of the contract, sound record keeping is paramount. Ensure you have the information from funders about what they will need. For example, European funds are notoriously ‘paper intensive’ in terms of records and evidence needed, so start by knowing what documents are expected of you. Accounting for acquired funds is a legal as well as contractual obligation where public funds are involved so the necessary paper and IT software systems should be explored.

Audit visits

These are a common element of monitoring funds and you should ideally start with these in mind. Funders are not looking to catch out the recipients of their funds and are generally happy to advise on records and audit trail well in advance of a visit. It is in their interest as well as yours to be methodical and transparent in the way you evidence your grant income and expenditure. If in doubt, ask your funder. They are not just there to hand out money – they have a responsibility to ensure it is spent wisely. Work with them on systems if necessary.

Local fundraising: the legal obligations

Laws and obligations for local fundraising are different, but nonetheless important to comply with. They also differ significantly between the types of activities you choose. The following are some possible ideas with guidance, but the list is not exhaustive:

  • Gift Aid This scheme for individual or company donors allows a taxpayer to make a single donation (no limit to size) out of their taxed income. The receiving charity can claim back income tax at the basic rate as with covenants. The charity needs to get the donor to fill in a declaration to file in case of audit. The charity has to complete forms for the Inland Revenue to reclaim the tax. As it is a one-off payment the administration for the charity is minimal. Gift Aid 2000 was recently introduced for charities working overseas. Booklet IR 113 from the Inland Revenue explains the scheme in detail.
  • Company sponsorship Companies may be interested in sponsoring an event particularly if it or the cause relates to their business, or you can assure them of a large audience. Companies are interested in free publicity and selling goods so you need to persuade them that they too will gain from getting involved. For example, a baby care products firm might be interested in sponsoring a pram push.
  •  Before making an approach do your homework about the company and their policies on giving and who to contact. If it’s a large company talk informally first with their public relations department.
  • Raffles and lotteries The 1976 Lotteries and Amusements Act governs the requirements relating to lotteries. Generally it distinguishes between small private lotteries and public lotteries. Small private raffles and public lotteries do not need a licence so long as they are part of another occasion (eg a fete), and the sale of tickets and draw takes place the same day. The promoters must not use more than £250 from the proceeds to pay for prizes, but there is no limit on the value of donated prizes. Money prizes cannot be given. Proceeds must not be used for private gain. Public lotteries require a licence, costing around £35 from your local authority’s legal department who will also advise on the law governing the issue and sale of tickets. Other types of lotteries covered by the 1976 act include sweepstakes, tombolas and games with tickets with a tear-open window or scratch card.
  • Sponsored events Just about anything can be sponsored as long as it moves – walks, bike rides, swims, discos, knits, etc. They can be good fun as they involve a lot of people, attract audiences and can be financially very rewarding. But they do need a lot of organisation and hard work finding sponsors, and collecting the money after the event. Keep a record of everyone being sponsored so you can chase them up for their collection. Make sure the sponsorship form includes the following information:
  • why the money is needed
  • a description of the event
  • its purpose and date
  • the name, address, and age of sponsored person (if under 18)
  • each sponsor’s name, address and amount pledged
  • a statement to say:
    I certify that… has walked/swum/sung … miles/lengths/songs
  • the organiser’s signature and date.
  • Bingo The 1968 Gaming Act defines the circumstances under which bingo can legally be played. If it is played to raise funds for a charity, a licence or registration is not needed. The game can be advertised and the public admitted. The stakes and fee must be no more than £3 and the total value of prizes can be no more than £300. If bingo is the main event of a club then a licence is necessary.

Good habits to follow when dealing with money you have raised

  • If you are embarking on a long-term fund-raising project use a separate bank account from your main funds.
  • Have two signatories for each account.
  • Keep accurate and up-to-date records of all financial transactions.
  • Keep all receipts and invoices, and copies of invoices you have sent out.
  • Have your accounts audited each year by an independent person.
  • Make sure all cash donations are banked as soon as possible.
  • Prepare summaries of the accounts for any interested parties.

Some useful publications

  • Organising Local Events
  • Tried and Tested Ideas for Raising Money Locally
  • Good Ideas for Raising Serious Money Sarah Passingham, Directory of Social Change
  • The Complete Fundraising Handbook Sam Clark and Michael Norton, Directory of Social Change
  • Organising Special Events John F Gray and Stephen Elsden, Directory of Social Change  and Charity Aid Foundation
  • Running a Local Fundraising Campaign Janet Hildersley, Charity Aid Foundation 
  • Legacy Fundraising edited by Sebastian Wilberforce, Charity Aid Foundation
  • Payroll Giving Willemina Bell, Charity Aid Foundation
  • The Fundraiser’s Guide to the Law Bates, Wells and Braithwaite, Charity Aid Foundation

All the above books are available from Directory of Social Change
24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP, tel: 020 7 209 1015