Receiving donations

What you need to know

Grateful patients and their families often want to give a donation to say thank you to the staff who cared for them or their loved ones.

Whilst the donation may be made to say thank you to a specific member of staff, they cannot be used for the benefit of a named individual, but rather for a particular ward or service that anyone who uses that NHS service can benefit from.

These donations are managed by us as your official charity, as NHS bodies are not charities and cannot manage or administer charitable funds.

All gifts and donations must be properly managed and used for the purpose for which they are intended. If you are asked to accept a donation on behalf of your ward, department or service and are not sure what to do, have a look at our Guide to Managing Funds. Section 3 will provide you with the information that you need.

Anyone who makes a donation will receive a personal thank you from us. It is therefore important that we get as much information about the donation as possible.

Gifts with restrictions or conditions attached can be difficult to use, so where possible, the donor should be encouraged to make a general-purpose donation.


You can also direct grateful patients and families to make a donation online using our online donation form.

NHS Lothian’s Charities and Fundraising Policy

Charities play an important role in supporting your ward, services or departments to do more beyond what is provided by NHS funding. When it is not a core function of your role, it can be difficult to navigate best practice in fundraising and charitable donations to ensure that everything is legal and above board.

NHS Lothian’s Charities and Fundraising Policy has been developed to provide NHS Lothian staff with clarity and guidance about fundraising or charitable support activities.

What this policy will help you to do:

  • Know where to go to get help regarding the procedures around receiving donations, etc. 
  • Make well-informed decisions about fundraising and charitable donations
  • Where to direct grateful patients and their families who wish to make a donation
  • How to deal with on-site fundraising or promotion requests and who to speak to if you want to undertake fundraising activities
  • The process to follow if a donor requests for a plaque to be displayed recognising their donation
  • The process to follow for VIP visits, media/press releases and photocalls
  • The different roles and status of the charities that support NHS Lothian; official, associated, supporting, and where to find the Register of Charities
  • What to do if someone asks you to witness a will
  • Understand the right way to seek funds if you want to make an improvement to the environment or service improvements, and where to direct other charities if they approach you to suggest service improvements or developments.

Remember! As your official charity, NHS Lothian Charity is here to support and help. So, if you have any questions, please get in touch: [email protected]

FAQs: Implementing the policy and dealing with different scenarios

  • Follow the procedures outlined in the Donation Receipt Books which are available in most wards, site cashier offices or from NHS Lothian Charity’s Fundraising Team.
  • Or direct them to make a one-off or regular donation by visiting the donate page of NHS Lothian Charity’s website:
  • Avoid entering into discussions with patients, their family or friends, especially regarding large donations above £5,000 or leaving a legacy (writing a Will). Instead, direct them to NHS Lothian Charity.

Contact: [email protected]

Contact NHS Lothian’s Official Charity, NHS Lothian Charity, in the first instance.

  • The Charity can advise on whether funding sources already exist to support the initiative, whether a new Specific Fund could be created, and/or whether the fundraising activity that you are proposing could be supported by the Charity.
  • If the Charity is not able to support the initiative, they may advise whether the initiative and the fundraising activity could be supported via a different charity.

Contact: [email protected]

  • Seek permission from the NHS Lothian Corporate Communications Team for any media activity (filming, photography, social media activity) or any VIP visits.
  • Contact NHS Lothian Charity’s Communications and Marketing Manager if the funding for the project came from the Charity. They can work together with you to align and maximise any marketing opportunities, or provide advice and support if needed.

Contact: [email protected]

  • Be aware that, whilst there is no legal requirement that prevents any healthcare professional from witnessing a patient’s signature, you may be drawn into legal proceedings at a later date.
  • Direct them to NHS Lothian Charity’s Fundraising Team if they are interested in leaving a gift to NHS Lothian or its hospitals, wards or services in their Will (known as a legacy).


  • Refer any proposals to senior clinical, nursing or site management and to the Official Charity, NHS Lothian Charity. Such initiatives may require a Deed of Grant or contractual basis such as a Service Level Agreement, procurement agreement or Memorandum of Understanding between NHS Lothian and the third party.

Remember! NHS Lothian Charity’s Fundraising Team is the fundraising unit for NHS Lothian. It is a resource for staff, patients, families, or members of the public who wish to raise money for NHS Lothian or its hospitals, wards and services. So get in touch.

Contact: [email protected]

  • Do not accept donations intended for Associated, Supporting or any other charities, even if we have a fund that has similar objectives.
  • Direct patients, families or members of the public to those charities’ websites or official addresses.

  • Direct them to NHS Lothian Charity’s Fundraising Team to help identify the most suitable fund.

Remember! Donations must never be made to an individual.

  • For donations made to the Official Charity, NHS Lothian Charity:

Seek permission from your line manager before participating in any activities during work hours to ensure this does not affect patient care or services.

  • For donations made to an associated charity:

Seek permission from your line manager before participating in any activities during work hours to ensure this does not affect patient care or services.

  • For donations made to a supporting charity:

Seek permission from the Director NHS Lothian Charity and NHS Lothian Corporate Communications Team before providing quotes or photographs.

The following provides guidance on what fundraising activities are allowed for different charities:

  • The Official Charity, NHS Lothian Charity, can publicise and fundraise throughout NHS Lothian physical premises and digital footprint.
  • Associated Charities can publicise and fundraise for the services they provide within certain hospitals and areas of NHS Lothian, with prior agreement from NHS Lothian Charity’s Head of Engagement.
  • Supporting Charities can place information about the services they provide within NHS Lothian premises, but these should not be about fundraising.
  • Other charitable organisations including both registered charities and unregistered voluntary organisations are not permitted to carry out fundraising or promotional activities across the NHS Lothian estate. Politely decline for the reasons set out within the policy.

Still not sure? Contact [email protected]

Only the following external charities can carry out fundraising activity on NHS Lothian sites:

  • Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal
  • BBC Children in Need
  • Red Nose Day / Comic Relief / Sport Relief

Contact NHS Lothian Charity’s Head of Engagement for approval for any on-site fundraising (including physical collection tins, in-person bucket collections, and electronic and digital donation collection methods including QR codes) to ensure it falls within the policy and that any liability or insurance issues are in place.

  • Seek approval from the Chief Officer for Acute Services or HSCP Director, and relevant Service Management Team, and NHS Lothian Charity’s Head of Engagement who will then seek approval through the Corporate Management Team.
  • Please do not promise any recognition without seeking approval first.

We do not expect you to be an expert in charities and fundraising. This policy provides a framework to help you deal with any requests that you may receive out with your core role. If you are unsure about anything, get in touch with NHS Lothian Charity’s Fundraising Team ([email protected]). As the Official Charity, they are here to help in any way they can and support you through their knowledge and expertise.

The principle of the policy is not to create barriers but to provide clear guidance on how to manage charitable donations and fundraising. It sets out best practice to ensure good governance and appropriate conduct. Staff can continue to have positive relationships with charities on site and can be better informed on how each can support NHS Lothian.

Contact NHS Lothian Charity’s Fundraising Team ([email protected]) and they can advise if the charity is on the register. They can also provide guidance on how a charity can apply to be included on this register.

Donors should be given a Donation Receipt Form at the time of giving the donation. Donation Receipt Books are available on most wards and contain guidance on how the form should be completed. It is important that all the information is completed for the donor and the donation. Any donations received on the ward should be taken to the Cashiers’ Office for banking as soon as possible.