Susan Smith believes the fundraising industry has to take full responsibility for recent scandals and create a single, powerful regulatory body
The Fundraising Standards Boards (FRSB) interim report into the circumstances surrounding the death of Olive Cooke and subsequent complaints about charity fundraising has some welcome recommendations, but the fundraising community must go further.
The report focuses on recommendations for the strengthening of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) Code of Practice, which is currently under review, including ensuring the public have more chances to opt out of contacts and that fundraising firms have less wiggle room when it comes to targeting elderly people or those who have asked not to be contacted.
A total of 384 public complaints were made to the FRSB following Olive Cooke’s death, 42% of people complained about the frequency of asks while 16% were confused over opting in and opting out.
That means radical reform, not just the touching up of a code which has enabled fundraising firms to justify hard sell pressure tactics
To be honest, anyone who has donated to charity over the last few years knows that the extent of the problem is far greater than this level of complaint would suggest. The media attention is a far greater indication of public mood and suggests people feel powerless in the face of ongoing harassment – Olive Cooke, for example, took her story to her local media to little affect.
This powerlessness is only touched on in the FRSB report in its focus on charity’s adherence to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and its admission that “it is clear that the service is not working the way that people expect it to”. Perhaps, however, if the FRSB’s profile were as high, donors would not put so much faith in the TPS.
Fundraising rules and regulation are drowning in confusion. The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) has done a good job of cleaning up street fundraising, but is only beginning to make inroads into other face-to-face methods, the IoF is responsible for creating a code of practise for all fundraising but complaints have to be made to the FRSB.
The UK charity sector cannot afford more fundraising scandals. The fundraising community needs to take full responsibility for the situation that it currently finds itself in, and that means radical reform, not just the touching up of a code which has enabled fundraising firms to justify hard sell pressure tactics.
It’s time to let go of old territory and create a single fundraising regulatory force that has the power and force to clean up fundraising for good.