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First-time collecting

Collecting for the first time can seem daunting but often the hardest thing is getting out of your own front door! If you’re nervous then ask your organiser if you can join another collector first or ask a friend to come along with you.

What to say

Here’s a starting script to give you an idea of what to say when you are collecting:

'Hello, I’m [name], a volunteer from [location].' Emphasise if you’re local – eg 'do you live round the corner/are you from a nearby church?'

'It’s Christian Aid Week this week, and I posted an envelope like this one through your door a few days ago. Would you like to make a donation to support the world’s poorest people?'

If they say no, that’s fine! Thank them for their time and remember that whether or not someone donates, you’re still being a visible Christian witness in your local community and raising the profile of Christian Aid. If they say yes, amazing! 

Thank them and ask if they would like to Gift Aid it, using the tear-off slip from the envelope.

More information

There are lots of hints and tips below to help you raise money and stay safe so do read the general advice and health and safety tips.

Your ‘Guide to Collecting’, which contains your authorisation badge, also has advice and useful information about Christian Aid to answer questions people have on the doorstep.

General advice on collecting

Here are some of our top tips from collectors on what they do to make Christian Aid Week collecting a success.

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 makes it more fun and some people even go out with their home group or whole church – even just taking a friend can make a big difference. The promise of a pint or a cuppa and a good chat at the end makes knocking on the last few doors easier.

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. You might even spot ways your church can serve the local area while you’re out and about.

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 for houses with ‘no-cold-calling’ stickers or if you’re short of time and can’t deliver and collect the envelopes.

Speak to your local organiser if you can’t do a traditional collection but you could do this instead.

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 though you must be over 16 to collect house to house in your own right. If you have children then consider taking them with you as they will have fun and people love seeing a child getting involved with fundraising for a good cause.

Some collectors have reported great success taking the family dog with them as well as the children so if you have a friendly pet, why not make it part of their walk?

Ask your local Christian Aid 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 Eckington.’ Mary Briscoe, Worcestershire

Your local Christian Aid team is there to support you. Please do get in touch if you have any questions or need advice. We’d also love to hear if you have your own top tips to share or try any of these!

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.

Communication

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.

Driving

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.

Timing

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.

Weather

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.

Personal security

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.

Money

Please be aware that old paper £10 notes will no longer be legal tender from 1 March 2018. However, if you do get any old £5 or £10 notes, Barclays and most banks will still accept these so they are still worth having.

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.

Health

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.

Safeguarding advice for house-to-house collections

We want giving to Christian Aid to be a positive experience for all. It’s possible that during your house-to-house collections you will meet people who may be in a vulnerable circumstance, or who need additional support to make an informed decision about giving.

There could also be times when you inadvertently approach people who may not have the mental capacity to make a decision to donate. To treat donors fairly and safely, please follow the following advice when collecting:

  • Make sure you are familiar with your church’s safeguarding policy, and have the phone number of your safeguarding officer to hand.
  • If you suspect that a person you are collecting from is lacking capacity or is in vulnerable circumstances, please leave politely and immediately without making a request for a donation. This should be done without any direct enquiries about the individual’s capacity to make a decision or the existence of vulnerable circumstances.
  • If they wish to support Christian Aid in another manner, you can give the number of your local office who will be able to help.
  • If questions arise about someone’s capacity to give a donation after they have made it, please contact your local office. We will investigate and return the donation if appropriate.

Further reading

Treating Donors Fairly - Guidance for fundraisers responding to the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances and helping donors make informed decisions

Care Act 2014

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 2016/17, 86p was spent on ‘direct charitable expenditure’ – or on helping those living in poverty. We spend 14p 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.

What work does Christian Aid do in Haiti?

We’ve been working in Haiti through our local partners since the 1980s, and in Haiti we support local people with everything from building secure livelihoods to protecting human rights.

Our local partners also help people prepare for and respond to disasters. For example, ahead of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 we were able to warn local communities, helping evacuate around 5,000 families and saving many lives.

In the immediate aftermath people were helped with shelter kits, hygiene kits, food seeds and cash transfers. We also build disaster-resistant homes to give people safe, secure places to live.

Across the globe, we carry out our relief, development and advocacy work through more than 700 local organisations, which are close to the people and communities we seek to help and so best understand their needs.

What happened to all of the money raised for Haiti after the earthquake and hurricane Matthew?

People like Marcelin, whose story is on the envelope, find it hard to cope with the effects of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes as they are already living in poverty.

Thanks to your support, Christian Aid was able to reach more than 185,000 people in the five years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. We also helped to build 700 new permanent houses in affected communities and trained local communities in ‘disaster risk reduction’ techniques, to prepare them for future emergencies.

Hurricane Matthew was the biggest hurricane to hit Haiti in a decade. Thousands of people lost their homes and an estimated two million people were affected. With your support, we raised more than £900,000 to help families recover and rebuild their lives.

However, there are many more people who need help to have a secure home that can weather the next disaster. Your donations this Christian Aid Week can help families like Marcelin’s and others around the world.

Why do people in Haiti still need our help?

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it has struggled to cope with relentless earthquakes, storms and hurricanes. The people are resilient, and they’re constantly fighting to survive. But they’ve been hit by disaster so many times, and climate change is only making it worse. The more Haiti is hit, the weaker it gets. Each time, people lose their homes and livelihoods.

Currently, there are around 38,000 people still living in tents in Haiti, and according to the United Nations in Haiti there are still around 2 million people in need of humanitarian support.

Sadly, this is a common story across the world. There are 40 million people globally who are internally displaced – they’ve had to flee their homes, uprooted by natural disasters, conflicts and other crises, but have remained in their own countries. Unlike refugees, we rarely hear about them in the media, and international government policies aren’t set up to protect them.

We believe the world can, and must, do better. That’s why this Christian Aid Week we’re asking you to help support displaced people in Haiti, and elsewhere, so they can life in safety and withstand the storms of life.

What’s your response to the Oxfam scandal in the news?

We are saddened by these accounts of reprehensible behaviour from a group of individuals who have abused their power, exploited their position, and sought to subvert systems designed to protect vulnerable people in Haiti. Through their unacceptable actions, they have undermined the vital, effective and life-changing work carried out by Oxfam, as well as by other aid and humanitarian organisations worldwide.

We must not let the actions of a few individuals stop us from providing vital support and help to those most in need, including in Haiti. We must continue to stand by vulnerable people, like Marcelin and his daughters who are struggling to live through disasters and their aftermath.

The UK public has been extremely generous in supporting people in places like Haiti to recover from disasters and overcome poverty, and there has been much to celebrate. Without continued support, others like Marcelin who have lost their homes and livelihoods, or those who are seeing their lives eroded by climate change, will not get the urgent support they desperately need.

See Christian Aid’s full statement on sexual misconduct and safeguarding in the aid sector.

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.

 

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.