Concern after another fundraising agency goes to the wall on the back of negative publicity
There are fears charity fundraising is heading towards a new crisis after a major company went to the wall with the loss of nearly 100 jobs.
R Fundraising raises cash for clients including The Samaritans by direct contact and is one of the biggest fundraisers of its kind in the UK.
It delivers telephone fundraising and client management services for a host of charities in the UK from bases in Dunfermline and Manchester.
Bosses at the company said extreme market forces on the back of negative publicity created by the death of Olive Cooke, had suddenly created a sharp fall in revenues, making trading impossible.
R Fundraising's parent company, the Fundraising Initiatives Group, which bought R Fundraising in January, announced the closure.
It is believed the group will still retain face-to-face fundraising contracts but drop telephone fundraising.
It said 88 posts will be lost in Scotland while 11 will go in Manchester.
The announcement comes hard on the heels of news GoGen’s demise last week – one of the biggest fundraisers for charities in the UK - with the loss of 485 jobs.
If several clients at the same time pull work unexpectedly it can be catastrophic for a small agency
A statement from the board of R Fundraising read: “The board has decided that current market conditions have given it no choice but to close telephone fundraising agency R Fundraising as its position has become untenable.
“The board announced that it is with regret that R Fundraising Limited will shortly be taking steps to be placed into administration, with a total of 99 staff being made redundant.”
The announcement backs up fears charities are becoming increasingly risk averse in the wake of the Olive Cooke scandal and distancing themselves from direct fundraising.
Cooke was a 92 year old poppy seller who was found dead in May in the Avon Gorge near her home in Bristol.
She had complained about being deluged by demands from charities, and friends said these could have been a contributory factor in her death, even though family members later discounted this.
Hamish Horton, group managing director of Fundraising Initiatives Group, said: "While we will not name specific charities, much like experiences felt across the rest of the telephone fundraising industry, clients have been cautious in reviewing their strategies and some have pulled campaigns.
“If several clients at the same time pull work unexpectedly it can be catastrophic for a small agency.”
GoGen made a similar announcement last week after suffering a loss of business after the Daily Mail made a series of allegations based on an undercover reporter working for the agency and covertly filming some employees.
The reports focused on the telephoning of people registered with the Telephone Preference Service and vulnerable people who were suffering from dementia.
The reports, including front page headlines, continued for five days in a row culminating in The Daily Mail declaring “Victory!” as it convinced the Prime Minister to introduce “tough new laws” within days.
It focused on GoGen clients the British Red Cross, Macmillan Cancer Support, Oxfam and the NSPCC and accused them of “taking donations over the phone from those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”.
A former employee of GoGen said hundreds of people had lost their jobs because of the Daily Mail and called for the public to boycott buying the tabloid.
He added: “It (the Daily Mail) reported completely normal work-driven conversations and casual behind-the-scenes venting about unreasonable people that certain callers dealt with.
“It disguises itself to these people as a newspaper, but really it serves to simply horde its own ridiculous profit by aggressively targeting it's readers with sensational over the top headlines.
“The public should boycott the Daily Mail now.”
Morag Fleming, chair of the Institute of Fundraising Scotland, told TFN: “We are concerned about the issues that fundraisers are facing at the moment.
“We hope that the review by the Institute into the codes and the current Scottish Government review will allow good fundraising to continue and flourish."