The snap general election, in early June, means that Christian Aid Week this year will fall bang in the middle of the election campaign. This has happened before, and we know that it offers us a great chance to raise the profile of Christian Aid Week.
As a charity, we must be strictly party-neutral. Supporters who help us to raise funds in Christian Aid Week are our representatives, so we need them to act accordingly.
Please see the ‘Do’s, don’ts and FAQs' below to help you seize opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls!
- Do make clear you’re not a political canvasser! Chances are, people will be glad to talk to someone who’s not just after their vote!
- Do be friendly and respectful – a smile costs nothing but goes a long way.
- Do explain you’re a local volunteer (and use the badges that say so). People respond well to their neighbours doing something charitable.
- Do tell people about Christian Aid’s work, and the theme of this year’s week. People like to know what they’re being asked to support.
- Do encourage people to attend any local Christian Aid Week events that are happening – a great chance for them to learn more about Christian Aid and the churches in their area.
- Do dress comfortably – it’s hard work after all!
- Do distribute red envelopes.
- Don’t get drawn into a political debate on the doorstep. If asked, answer questions where you can (see suggested answers below), but avoid any heated discussions.
- Don’t get frustrated – some people will support us, others won’t. Channel your energy into talking to the ones who do/will.
- Don’t identify yourself as supporting a particular party. Our supporters cover the whole political spectrum, and it’s important we are seen as neutral.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. There are key messages on the red envelope, and you can also point people towards our website.
- Don’t wear any identifying markers for a particular political party or carry political leaflets at the same time as doing your house-to-house collecting.
- Don’t distribute any party-political materials at the same time. This would breach charity law.
Frequently asked questions - general election
During an election period, is it OK for me to knock on doors?
Yes! And it’s important that we do in order to collect for Christian Aid Week – especially this year. This Christian Aid Week offers a great opportunity to show the public and all political candidates just how much we value the role that Britain plays in the world, helping those who are most in need.
Since there are likely to be other people knocking on doors this week, please make it clear that you are there to collect on behalf of Christian Aid, serving the world’s poor. As a charity, we must be party neutral.
Will I be asked about Christian Aid’s policies or stance on the election?
You might be, but you don’t have to give a very detailed answer. You can simply tell people that Christian Aid works around the world to end both the symptoms of poverty and its root causes.
We support people living in poverty to build secure lives that they can look forward to living. Christian Aid Week began 60 years ago, started by ordinary people who wanted to make a difference – and that’s what we continue to do today.
Christian Aid does not have a ‘stance’, nor do we ever take sides on an election. As a charity, we are politically impartial at all times.
Christian Aid has produced a ‘manifesto’ that outlines the policy priorities we call on political parties to adopt in their own manifestos, as well as questions individuals might like to ask candidates. You can suggest people visit caid.org.uk/ge2017 to find out more.
Tip: Please don’t wear any identifying markers for any political party or other campaign or carry political leaflets at the same time as doing your house-to-house collecting.
What if I’m challenged by someone with a critical view of development or who disagrees with UK support for refugees?
You’re likely to come across a range of responses when out collecting. Feel free to express why you support Christian Aid, as far as you are comfortable, but don’t be afraid to just thank people for their opinion and be on your way.
Here are a few things you might like to say if asked why you are a supporter of Christian Aid:
- I believe that supporting the work of an international development charity, helping the poorest communities, is part of the important role that the UK plays in the world.
- Helping the most vulnerable is the right thing to do. It is Britain at its most big-hearted.
- I’m just one of more than 50,000 Christian Aid supporters across the country who are out and about collecting and hosting events this week. We’re all raising money because we believe that charity begins at home but doesn’t end there.
- UKaid has made a major contribution to the Millennium Development Goals, helping to:
- immunise 67 million children against preventable disease
- provide life-saving food to more than 500,000 people affected by famine in South Sudan get kids into school: as many as 111 million more people completed primary school, compared to in the 1990s
- bring access to improved drinking water sources to 2 billion people over the past 20 years.
My church/group is organising an event for Christian Aid, and had planned to invite our local MP. Are we still able to do that?
Current MPs will cease to be MPs once Parliament is dissolved at the start of May. You can still invite them, but you should also take steps to invite all the candidates from other parties. Your local Christian Aid office can help you find contact details.
Tip: If you’re inviting your local candidates to speak at an event (which can be good for publicity and a ‘hook’ to get local media to come along), you should try to invite them all and have them participate equally. Perhaps ask each of them to give a short speech (eg on how they would support the aims of Christian Aid) and encourage them to post about the event on Twitter and Facebook.
Top tips for organising a house-to-house collection
Make it sociable
‘We make our door-to-door collection a sociable evening. We go out in small groups around the village, have lots of chat along the way and finish afterwards with a cuppa (and more chat!) in one of the collector's homes.’ Barbara Rea, County Antrim
Collecting as part of a group – or even as a whole church – makes it more fun, while gathering for refreshments afterwards can be a real incentive for collectors.
Hold an introductory meeting
‘Meeting up with all the collectors before Christian Aid Week – couldn’t do without it! It allows everyone to feel part of a team, gives me the chance to distribute materials quickly and by viewing the videos together, we’re up to date with the themes for the week and can discuss them.
‘After supper and great hilarity, everyone goes away keen to get started and with perhaps a little bit of rivalry going on!’ Lorna Hall, Glasgow
A sociable gathering just before Christian Aid Week can help build up your team, increasing their confidence and motivation. Show the video and ask collectors to share their stories.
Share the Good News
'House to house is a great way to speak with your neighbours, to meet them where they are and to build relationships with them.
'It’s an opportunity to say we are from the local Church and we care enough about our neighbours living in poverty around to the world to go out and collect, and we would love to support you, our local neighbours, in any way we can also.’ Peter Donnison, Cardiff
Christian Aid Week is the biggest act of Christian witness in Britain and Ireland, and provides a perfect opportunity for us to share God’s love with our neighbours. You could distribute flyers about your Big Brekkie, special service or church initiative along with your envelopes.
Advertise a collection point
‘For hard-to-reach areas, we leave a note asking people to return their envelope to our local supermarket, or bring it to the Christian Aid Week coffee morning.’ Sue Greener, East Sussex
Using a local collection point for some or all of your streets is a useful tactic if you’re short of collectors or have people reluctant to knock on doors. It can also be used for houses with ‘no-cold-calling’ stickers.
Get the word out!
‘I made the effort to get an article about Christian Aid Week, and the contribution made by all our volunteers, into the local paper. It made a real difference.
‘When we went out collecting, people did seem more willing to give, envelopes ready at the door, thanking us for doorstep collecting – I even had one lady shake my hand!’ Neil Fisher, East Sussex
Boost awareness of your collections and events in the local press and on social media – photos and personal quotes will increase the likelihood of your article being published and read. Your local office can support you with this.
Train up the next generation
‘I’ve been taking my daughter collecting with me for years now – she really enjoys it and people love giving her their envelope full of money!’ Larry Bush, Northumberland
Children can be very effective collectors’ assistants – you must be over 16 to collect house to house in your own right. Running a school assembly about Christian Aid Week is a great way of reaching lots of young people, as well as prompting parents to give.
Ask your local office
‘I am personally grateful for all the friendships that have developed over the past 15 years in my dealing with Christian Aid’s Birmingham office. I would like to express my thanks to everyone there for all that you do, and have done, in supporting our fundraising efforts here in Elkington.’ Mary Briscoe, Worcestershire
Your local Christian Aid team is there to support you. Please do get in touch to explore how to make the most of Christian Aid Week, and let us know if you decide to try out any of these tips. We’d also love to hear if you have your own top tips to share!
When is the next Christian Aid Week taking place?
The dates for the next few Christian Aid Weeks are:
- 13-19 May 2018
- 12-18 May 2019
- 10-16 May 2020
Health and safety guidelines
Get to know your street
If you’re not already familiar with the area, find out about the street you will be visiting and any potential safety issues. If your church, local committee or group collected in that street last year, they might have some information and advice.
Make sure a friend, relative or member of your church, committee or group knows when and where you will be collecting. If you have a mobile phone, take it with you but keep it concealed so that it’s not a target for thieves.
If you drive to the street where you’re collecting, park your car in a safe, well-lit area as near to the street as possible. Avoid walking a long distance carrying money.
It’s illegal to collect after 9pm – and we recommend that you only collect during daylight hours anyway. This is not only safer for you, but potential supporters may also feel more comfortable opening the door to you while it’s still light.
Consider postponing your collection if the weather makes it hazardous.
Safe access to properties
If a property is hard to access (due to, for example, dangerously stacked rubbish, building works or an unstable path) it may be better not to visit. You might be able to make contact with a householder via a neighbour instead.
Always be aware of any hazards that could cause you to slip or trip up, as well as falling items, unstable structures, machinery, moving vehicles and things that restrict visibility, such as heavy undergrowth.
Dogs and other pets
We suggest you use a ruler to push envelopes through letterboxes. If, while delivering or collecting, you become aware that there’s a fierce dog or other pet at the property, which isn’t being controlled or restrained by the householder, move quickly to a place of safety.
Where possible, bring someone with you – it’s always safer (and more fun) to collect in pairs, especially in an area that’s isolated or has a high crime rate. Don’t take risks, be guided by your instincts, and if you begin to feel unsafe it may be better to postpone your collection and return to a place of safety.
Don’t enter anyone’s home, and avoid dark, unlit areas or places from which you could find it difficult to escape. Consider precautions such as carrying a personal safety alarm.
Dealing with confrontational, violent or aggressive behaviour
If you encounter anyone who’s aggressive, confrontational or hostile, stay calm and remain polite. Keep a safe distance from the person and find a way to withdraw safely from the situation as soon as you can.
If you see that someone’s becoming agitated, try to defuse the situation and avoid saying or doing anything that might make it worse.
Please be aware that old paper £5 notes will no longer be legal tender after 5 May 2017. Use a discreet bag/container that allows you to keep the money you collect concealed.
If a supporter wishes to make a large donation on the door, it’s better for them to write a cheque. If at any point you feel threatened or challenged for the money you’ve collected, don’t take any personal risks. In the event of a threat or theft, call the police as soon as you can safely do so.
If you’re too unwell to collect, or are aware of a health condition that may make it unsafe, postpone your visit until you’re well enough, or arrange for another member of your church, committee or group to do it instead.
Reporting accidents, near misses and incidents
In the unlikely event that an accident or incident occurs during your house-to-house collection, it’s important that you report this immediately to the leader of the church or other group that’s organising the collection.
Frequently asked questions on the doorstep
What does Christian Aid do?
Christian Aid has a vision of an end to poverty. Across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean, we work with local partners to bring lasting change for people living in poverty, regardless of their faith, gender or race.
What’s Christian Aid Week?
Christian Aid Week is seven amazing days of fundraising, prayer and action against global poverty.
During the week, we ask our amazing supporters to give their time, money and voices to help bring lasting change to some of the world’s poorest communities. The money you raise funds our vital work to help transform the lives of people around the world.
How is the money spent?
Of every £1 given in 2014/15, 84p was spent on ‘direct charitable expenditure’ – or on helping those living in poverty. Just 1% of our income is spent on governance and administration. We spend 15p from every £1 raised on raising the next £1, which keeps our work going.
Why does Christian Aid only work on issues of poverty internationally?
Christian Aid was set up by the churches in Britain and Ireland to be their agency to tackle poverty overseas. Christian Aid works with agencies such as Church Action on Poverty to draw attention to the links between poverty at home and abroad through issues such as tax.
Does Christian Aid only help Christians?
No. We believe everyone is equal. We work to help people on the basis of need, not religion, race, ethnicity or nationality, and fund projects that help people whatever their beliefs.
Much of the work we fund is carried out by local, faith-based organisations – including those run by Christians, Muslims, Jews or people of other faiths – but it’s for the benefit of all. Poverty does not discriminate on the basis of faith and neither do we.
We are committed to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Code of Conduct, meaning we never link aid with evangelism, and we don’t promote one Christian church or denomination over another.
What does the ‘Christian’ in Christian Aid mean?
Christian Aid was created by the churches in Britain and Ireland, and churches remain our key supporters. We’re the overseas development agency of 41 sponsoring churches in Britain and Ireland and work with church networks around the world.
We believe that God created all humans in his image, equal to one another. In a world where 1.4 billion people live in poverty, we believe that Jesus calls us to be good news to the poor.
Our faith mandates us to stand up for their rights, fight for their dignity and work for an end to their suffering.
Why should we support refugees?
Refugees like Nejebar, whose story is featured on the Christian Aid Week envelope, have fled terrible violence from places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Driven out of their homes, people have been forced to make dangerous, exhausting journeys in search of safety, and they need support.
Most refugees seek sanctuary in poor countries neighbouring their own. But wherever they are, they, like all of us, deserve a safe place to call home.
Our country has a long history of providing sanctuary to refugees, and Christian Aid was founded to help the huge numbers of people displaced after the Second World War. We won’t turn our backs on people desperate to escape the horrors of conflict.
Questions about ‘no-cold-calling’ areas
Do ‘no-cold-calling’ stickers apply to house-to-house collections?
Guidelines on ‘no-cold-calling stickers’ now apply to charity collections. Please do not knock on doors with stickers that say ‘no cold-calling’, ‘no fundraisers’, ‘no charities’ or similar, unless it’s the home of someone you know.
Which stickers apply?
You must not knock on doors with ‘no cold-calling’, ‘no doorstep callers’, ‘no calling without appointment’, ‘no charity fundraisers’ or other similar messages. You may knock on doors with stickers displaying a more specific request (or targeting a particular group), for example: ‘no salespeople, traders or junk mail’, but any approach should be made with caution and sensitivity.
How does this relate to ‘no-cold-calling’ zones?
Many councils have designated certain areas as ‘cold-calling control zones’ or ‘no-cold-calling zones’. These should be identified with signs on walls and lampposts etc throughout the area.
Many local authorities have decided that charity collections are still allowed in these zones. Please check our list of councils and their policies. If your council isn’t on that list, try contacting them directly – let us know if they respond by emailing CAidWeek@christian-aid.org
If your local authority has confirmed that charities are exempt, you may collect as normal. Otherwise, please do not call in those zones and follow the guidance we’ve given on ‘no-cold-calling’ stickers. If you have any questions, ask your local Christian Aid office.
What if it’s the home of someone I know?
If you know the occupants of the house, this doesn’t count as a cold call. Similarly, if you’re calling at the homes of your neighbours, have done so for several years, and know they usually donate, this is not classed as a cold call and it’s fine to knock.
Can collectors still leave envelopes at a ‘no-cold-calling’ house?
Yes, you can post an envelope through the door of a ‘no-cold-calling’ house, as long as you don’t knock. We suggest including an address where they can leave the envelope if they choose to donate.
What happens if a supporter makes a mistake and calls at a ‘no cold-calling’ house?
While all collectors should take care to look for a ‘no-cold-calling’ sticker before knocking, occasionally, these can genuinely be missed, especially if a sign or sticker is obscured or faded.
If a sticker is not seen and the resident reacts negatively as a consequence, please apologise, be respectful and leave immediately. You should also let your Christian Aid Week organiser know so that we can avoid collecting at that address in the future.
For treasurers in England and Wales
Which bank should I use to pay in Christian Aid Week income?
We recommend using Barclays or your own bank, but if neither of these is convenient, you can use the paying-in slip you received in your Welcome Pack in any bank branch. Please note that other banks may not accept large amounts of cash.
Can I use my Payzone card?
Any Payzone payments should be made at a Post Office before the end of September 2017, as after that, the facility is no longer available from any of the major banks. Unfortunately, this year, the cards can only be used at the Post Office, not at other Payzone outlets (newsagents etc).
We’re currently exploring alternative options for 2018. Please destroy your Payzone card after September.
Does my group need a bank or building society account?
No. You can send the money directly to Christian Aid’s bank account using the paying-in stationery provided. Please brief everyone who’s banking money raised in Christian Aid Week, using your printed copy of Money Matters.
Make sure they have enough paying-in stationery and return envelopes, and that you have completed the Christian Aid group name and reference number before passing on stationery (see the front of your Treasurer’s Toolkit for your group’s reference number).
If you have a Christian Aid group bank account, check that it has two up-to-date, authorised signatories. Ask your bank manager to operate the account free of charge.
When does the money need to reach Christian Aid?
Please pay in the money as soon as you receive it. Cheques must be banked and Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and other charity vouchers sent to Christian Aid quickly to avoid cancellations by donors who may think these have been lost or stolen.
The sooner money reaches Christian Aid, the sooner we can put it to work.
If you need more paying-in stationery, please call your local office. Once complete, please return the Form A to your local Christian Aid area office no later than 21 July 2017.
It is a legal requirement that the completed Form A be checked and signed by the Christian Aid Week organiser or treasurer, and also by an independent verifier if a house-to-house collection was held.
Who can be an independent verifier?
Your independent verifier should be someone who is not influenced, or perceived to be influenced, by either close personal relationships with the treasurer or by involvement in the financial administration of Christian Aid Week.
The verifier should not have been involved in the administration of the house-to-house collection and should have no connection with the house-to-house collection that might prevent him/her from carrying out an independent check of the financial documents.
A verifier cannot independently check his or her own work, so cannot be the Christian Week treasurer, organiser or member of your Christian Aid group.
Can I deduct expenses?
Yes. You may deduct any expenses incurred, either through house-to-house activity or in other ways (for example, travel costs). Please keep a clear record of all expenses incurred and deduct before paying any funds raised to Christian Aid.
Please note: Christian Aid cannot reimburse costs of fundraising at a later date. We are legally required to report house-to-house expenses to the Office for Civil Society. It’s therefore essential that you record your expenses in the following way when completing the Form A:
- in the case of house-to-house collections only, detail the total amount raised before expenses are deducted in section C (under ‘house-to-house collections’), and expenses incurred through house-to-house activity in section D
- for expenses incurred in relation to any other kind of fundraising, deduct your costs from the total collected and report the total after expenses in section C.
Do collectors need to be contacted after Christian Aid Week?
Yes. Please make sure that individual collectors are thanked and told how much they raised, either by you, your Christian Aid Week organiser or their church rep. Thank you cards and posters are available from Christian Aid, either through your Christian Aid Week organiser or by calling your area office.
What information should I gather about collectors?
You must keep a list of collectors and their contact details. Mark next to each name the number of envelopes collected and the total amount, alongside the precise area where they collected.
Please keep this list securely for seven years in case of future audit. On the Form A, please record the total number of collectors involved and the number of envelopes that were collected through house-to-house activities. This should include the envelopes returned with nothing in them.