Our global volunteer network consists of hundreds of thousands of individuals and the handling of money has significant potential to cause problems.
Our experience over the years suggests there are several areas of specific concern:
- parkrun volunteers making honest mistakes that lead to financial irregularities.
- parkrun volunteers being falsely accused of misappropriating funds.
- Money going missing or being spent inappropriately.
Any of those have the ability to significantly impact a local event, damage the reputation of parkrun as a whole, and divert limited parkrun HQ resources away from other important aspects of the management and support of parkrun around the world. It is critical therefore that we maintain high standards of financial governance.
As such, our cash-handling policy is based around the following considerations:
- Keeping things simple and allowing our volunteers to focus on delivering safe, accessible and inclusive community events.
- Protecting volunteers from being falsely accused of misappropriating funds.
- Protecting volunteers from making honest mistakes that lead to the misappropriation of funds.
- Protecting funds, that are meant for parkrun, from being misappropriated.
- Minimising volunteer and staff time required to support parkrun locally and centrally.
- Ensuring that, as a globally recognised charity, we are following best practice financial governance.
- Presenting a clear and concise policy with minimal room for different interpretations.
Finally, to understand this policy fully it's important to consider it in the context of delivering tens of thousands of events every single year, to millions of people, and to realise that every single issue associated with financial irregularity has the potential to divert us all away from delivering community-led, socially-focused events.
- At no time should any money intended for parkrun, or associated in any way with the delivery or operations of parkrun, be deposited in any account other than those managed by parkrun HQ, or be held in cash form by any parkrun volunteer.
- All donations (excluding startup fees in some territories) should be donated directly, by the donor, to parkrun, using the dedicated donations platforms. Where there is not a dedicated donations platform, events cannot accept donations.
- At no time should any parkrun volunteer handle cash whilst carrying out a parkrun volunteer role.
We would like to organise a one-off social event for our community but there is a cost.
Whilst we recognise that socialising is one of the founding principles of parkrun, our recommendation would always be that these kinds of events (eg. Christmas parties and anniversary celebrations) be delivered at zero cost to the event team. In the spirit of keeping things simple, it is more than adequate to invite parkrunners to stay behind at the local cafe for a post-event celebration where individual parkrunners can purchase their own food and drink from the venue.
We would like to organise an informal social event amongst the core team and regular participants.
Every parkrun event brings people together, friendships are formed and relationships built. This is key to the success of our events and again is something to be encouraged. In this case, however, any social event must be arranged and promoted as a social gathering of friends who met through parkrun, not through official parkrun channels, and not in any way formally linked to parkrun. This way, individuals are free to collect money and free to choose how they manage that process. There are similarities here with wanting to organise a run outside of the parkrun event itself. In that situation parkrun volunteers are free, of course, to create and promote other physical activity events, but there must be no association with official parkrun channels.
We would like to collect money for an official charity partner of parkrun or a local charity of our choice.
Under no circumstances should any parkrun volunteers collect any money meant for charity or set up an online fundraising platform to do so. If a parkrun event wishes to promote charity fundraising then they can either invite representatives of that charity to attend their event in person or they can direct parkrunners to the official fundraising platform of that charity. In no way should event teams feel they need to promote any charity.
We would like to generate funds for our parkrun event through things like cake sales or raffles.
parkrun volunteers are not permitted to generate funds for their event in this way. Whilst we understand that something like a cake sale may seem relatively low risk, some of our events would be capable of generating significant income and as such could easily put themselves and the funds at risk. In countries where parkrun events have individual donations pots, it is acceptable for parkrun teams to carry out fundraising initiatives, but all donations received must go directly through the dedicated donation platform, from the donors themselves.
There is no accessible post-event cafe or other social venues at our event, can we provide refreshments and charge the participants.
It's clear that post-event socialising is a wonderful part of our Saturday and Sunday mornings and, although most events do have cafes nearby or mobile coffee-vans in attendance, unfortunately, some venues do not have access to these facilities. It is a really great idea in these instances to provide some kind of post-event refreshments.
With regards to fundraising for these supplies, teams may ask their communities to make donations through the dedicated donation platform (where available), and those funds can be used to purchase supplies. In this case, any excess would build up in the event's donations pot and could be used for other things.
In some cases, a local community organisation may like to provide post-event refreshments and charge per item, and as long as they are not formally linked to parkrun then this is absolutely fine and should be encouraged. Most communities will have local charitable groups who would undoubtedly welcome an opportunity for a small but regular income.
A third alternative would be to ask the parkrun community to donate tea, coffee and snacks.