‘Rule of six’ and rise in Covid-19 cases prompt charities to rethink fundraising events

21 Sep 2020 News

Charities are once again having to rethink their fundraising activity, after the introduction of the “rule of six” amid an increase of Covid-19 transmission made in-person events harder to carry out.

Since last Monday no more than six people from different households are allowed to meet and socialise in England.

There are numerous exceptions to the rule, including for work and organised sports, but it is unclear whether they apply to community fundraising events organised by volunteers.

The Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (IoF) are working with the government on specific guidance for fundraising events, which according to the IoF could be published this week.

Meanwhile, the new rules and the increase in coronavirus cases across the country has prompted charities to cancel or rethink their fundraising events, for example by moving them online.

‘Small is beautiful’

The National Garden Scheme (NGS) is one charity that had to change its plans because of the rule of six. 

Between 14 and 20 September, it had scheduled the Great British Garden Party, an event which asked supporters to host a fundraising tea party in their gardens. The “rule of six” came into place on the very same day the event was due to begin.

The charity gave its supporters a list of options, including holding small parties of six people or inviting different groups in different time slots. “Small is beautiful,” it said in its message to supporters. Alternative ideas included running bake and produce sales outside the garden or hosting a virtual party instead. 

The charity’s chief executive, George Plumptre, replaced the party he had planned with a smaller get together and launched an online raffle instead. He has raised £6,600 of his £10,000 target so far.

In a message to the charity’s supporters, he said: “This latest restriction, coming just before our event, is obviously disappointing. But you only need a few neighbours or family or friends to celebrate your garden and to remember just how important it has been in the last few challenging months.

“And of course, if you are able to help us with a donation to our fundraising campaign, that would be a generous extra.”


While organised sporting events are allowed as long as social distancing measures are respected, the “rule of six” and the increase in coronavirus cases prompted some charities to cancel them, sometimes in favour of a virtual event.

Recently cancelled events include: the PARAS’10 endurance race in Colchester, originally scheduled for 7 November, which raises money for military charity Support Our Paras; Cycle Autumn, organised by St Giles Hospice in Lichfield, which was planned for mid-October; and Outfit Moray’s Cairngorm to Coast hike and bike challenge, which takes place in Scotland.

Organisers of PARAS’10 cited both the rise in cases and the “rule of six” as reasons behind their decision.

In a message to supporters, they said: “We have 876 of you registered already. PARAS’10 is more than a race, it is a ‘family reunion’ – effectively a social gathering. With the new government legal ‘rule of six’ effective today, we do not see how we can make this work.

“Before today, we had investigated pods of 30 people, in distanced grids, brought to the start at time intervals, setting off at distanced intervals and taking part in a chipped time-trial, not a race. It’s not PARAS’10 as we know it, Jim, but it would have been a chance. The rule of six now makes this unfeasible.”

The charity will be holding a virtual race instead, open to individuals and teams of four.

Rule of six fundraiser

The National Brain Appeal has launched a rule of six fundraiser. 

It’s called Get Your Hat On and asks people to organise a six-people party, wear a party hat and donate £6 to the charity.

The fundraiser is also linked to the number six by the fact that one in six people are affected by a neurological disorder, the charity said.

Dan Ridge, digital & campaign director at The National Brain Appeal, said: “We all watched the announcement and quickly saw an opportunity to turn cancelled events into an idea. Fundraising relies on a connection with the audience and our hope is that we can connect with people to turn this news into a positive.”

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