Guest Blog: Fundraising Regulator - Volunteer fundraising: understanding the difference between ‘in aid of’ and ‘on behalf of’

20 Mar 2023 Jocelyn Horton    Last updated: 20 Mar 2023

Celia Currie, Stakeholder and Policy Manager for Northern Ireland, reflects on the importance of volunteers in fundraising and why it's important for charities to understand what type of fundraising is being carried out

As Stakeholder and Policy Manager, a key part of my role is presenting to charitable organisations across Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code). I was pleased to speak recently at a webinar hosted by Volunteer Now on the standards that charities and volunteer fundraisers are expected to follow.

At the regulator, we often get questions through our code advice service about volunteering – mostly about the two types of volunteer fundraising ‘in aid of’ and ‘on behalf of’ described in the code. This area can be complex – so here’s an overview of our guidance for charitable organisations on the two types of volunteer fundraising.

Defining ‘in aid of’ and ‘on behalf of’

Volunteers play such an important part in fundraising and supporting charitable giving here in Northern Ireland – whether that’s hosting community events, carrying out street collections, raising funds online or taking part in challenge events to support the causes they care about.

A volunteer is someone who raises money or is involved in a fundraising activity for a charity, without payment or other significant benefit. There are two types of volunteer fundraising in the code:

  • In aid of' volunteer fundraising is when a volunteer has not been instructed (asked or directed) by an organisation to fundraise. This is the most common kind of volunteer fundraising.
  • On behalf of’ volunteer fundraising is when a volunteer has been instructed (asked or directed) to fundraise by the organisation.

A more detailed definition can be found in the code glossary.

An example of ‘in aid of’ volunteer fundraising could include someone setting up a bake sale in support of a charity, but without that charity asking or directing them to do so.

An example of ‘on behalf of’ volunteer fundraising could include someone giving out leaflets or carrying out a street collection for a named charity (often wearing an ID badge and using charity branding).

Why the difference is important

It’s very important for you to think about the distinction between ‘on behalf of’ and ‘in aid of’ volunteer fundraising. This will determine whether, and to what degree, your charitable institution is responsible for the volunteer’s activity.

  • ‘In aid of’ volunteers are responsible for all aspects of their fundraising activity. It will therefore not be reasonable for your organisation to be held responsible for any breaches of the code.
  • By contrast, for ‘on behalf of’ volunteers, you will be responsible for the volunteer’s activity and making sure they meet the fundraising standards in the code.

Working out the difference can sometimes be tricky

Sometimes it may be difficult to decide if a volunteer fundraising arrangement is ‘in aid of’ or ‘on behalf of’. For example, a charity might publicise a ‘fun run’ event where the people taking part raise money. This situation would probably be considered an ‘in aid of’ volunteer arrangement because the opportunity was advertised to the general public.

However, the more evidence there is of your charity’s involvement in the volunteer fundraiser’s activities before they take place, the more likely the volunteer could be seen as fundraising ‘on behalf of’ the organisation.

The code is clear that you must make sure that any guidance, information and support you give to volunteers is relevant to the type of relationship that the volunteer has with you. So your organisation may need to consider taking further advice if your responsibilities are unclear.

Accessing further guidance

Standards on working with volunteer fundraisers are in section five of the code. The volunteer topics page on our website also sets out a good summary of the key responsibilities for ‘in aid of’ and ‘on behalf of’ volunteer fundraising and the general fundraising behaviour standards expected of all volunteer fundraisers.

If you have more questions about the difference between ‘in aid of’ and ‘on behalf of’ or general queries about the fundraising standards in the code, you can get in touch with the Fundraising Regulator’s code advice service for support. You can contact us using our online form or call 0300 999 3407.

The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.'s picture
by Jocelyn Horton

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.