Event Licenses for fundraisers explained

If you are holding a fundraising event it’s important to consider any licenses you might need. Holding an event without the right permissions could mean a fine, time in prison or both!

Initially, you might feel overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of things you need to consider. But don’t panic! At Fundraising Expert we’ll take you through it step by step. Read our round up of the key things you need to know; we’ve even given you some helpful links where you can find more information. And here’s one of our favourite ‘can’t go wrong’ mantras:

If in doubt, call your local authority! 

Why would I need a license for my fundraising event? 

You need a license for an event if you are selling alcohol (or if alcohol is included in the ticket price). There are two main types of licenses – a Premises License or a Temporary Event License (TEN). If you have read this far you are doing well. Remember - don’t let the legislation stop you – a Temporary Event License is only £21! Jump through the hoops quickly and effectively with our guide. 

Premises Licenses 

If you’re likely to be holding regular events every year where you will be have a licensable activity, including the sale of alcohol you may want to consider applying for a Premises License. This is particularly so if you intend to sell alcohol or serve hot food and drinks between 11pm and 5am. You will also need to apply for this license if you provide the following types of entertainment (even if it’s for charity): 

  1. Theatrical performance
  2. Showing a film
  3. Indoor sporting event
  4. Boxing or wrestling (indoor or outdoor)
  5. Live music
  6. Recorded music
  7. Dance
  8. Facilities for making music
  9. Dancing facilities

The application itself will ask you for information about the premises details and the operating schedule. You’ll be asked things about the premises layout, the places where alcohol will be consumed, the capacity in which you are applying, the non-domestic rateable value of the property (NDRV), and so on. But the good news is that once you have a premises license it will last indefinitely. 

Is it worth getting a Premises License?

If you aren’t sure if this kind of effort is the right thing for you and your charity, you might like to read this article by the Institute of Fundraising – Not All Fundraising Methods Are Created Equal. Professional fundraisers often measure return on investment (ROI) before deciding if the effort is worth it. Fundraising events have a strong ROI, so for many charities they are worth doing. After all, if you can get people into a room to hear about the lives being changed and how they can make a difference, not only are you likely to get a donation right then and there, but you’ll also be meeting people who might want to be involved in lots more events over the long term.

Check out further details here: https://www.gov.uk/premises-licence

Temporary Event Licenses

On the other hand if you are holding a one-off event for less than 500 people where you will be selling alcohol, serving hot food and drink between 11pm and 5am, or providing entertainment like music, dancing or indoor sporting events you may want to apply for a TEN. They are much cheaper, but can only be held by an individual, not by an organisation.

5 steps to getting a TEN license:

  1. Go to this website and put in your post code https://www.gov.uk/temporary-events-notice
  2. Make sure you are within the restrictions: fewer than 500 people and lasting no more than 7 days. 
  3. Apply at least 10 clear working days before the event. You can normally apply online.  
  4. Make sure the police have a copy of your TEN 10 working days before the event. 
  5. You will apply via your local council – so make sure you check out their specific processes well in time. Remember the mantra – If in doubt, call your local authority!

What else do I need to know about running a fundraising event? 

There are many more considerations when you’re thinking about running a fundraising event. Have a look at our Beginners Guide to Fundraising and Fundraising Events Guaranteed to be winners for your cause.  

Holding an event can also include ideas like: Raffles; Food and Drink; Fundraising Collections and PRS Music Licenses

Let us know about your fundraising  ideas event on our facebook page or twitter! 




Any material published on this website does not give a full statement of the law, nor does it reflect changes after the date stated on each document. It is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting on the basis of this material can be accepted by the author or by Fundraising Expert.

Fundraising Expert

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