By Andrew Holt
The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) will investigate allegations made by The Sunday Telegraph of poor fundraising practice by Tag Campaigns (Tag), part of The Gift Group.
The Sunday Telegraph editorial team showed the FRSB video evidence of a Tag training session and face-to-face fundraising in practice at various sites, after a reporter went undercover and was recruited to Tag as a fundraiser asking for SMS text gifts on the street.
During the one-day training session, the reporter claims that trainee fundraisers were not informed of the need to make any disclosure that they are paid, a legal requirement for fundraisers in the UK.
As a result, trainees within that group failed to make the required disclosures to the public.
The video footage showed team leaders urging fundraisers to be persistent and one fundraiser confessed her technique to get passersby to stop and talk was to “confuse” them, falsely telling them that that they had dropped something. Best practice standards (the Institute of Fundraising’s Face-to-Face Code of Fundraising Practice, section 4.0) state that fundraisers should “never deliberately confuse, mislead or obstruct the public”.
A team leader was sighted following pedestrians down the street after they had clearly indicated that they were not interested, stating “sometimes we have to break the rules a little bit”.
With this campaign, Tag was raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, a member of the FRSB committed to high fundraising standards and to being honest, open and transparent with supporters.
As such, fundraising materials shown to potential supporters clearly featured the Give With Confidence logo.
The FRSB is in discussions with the charity and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA, in addition to Tag, which has now confirmed that the company will fully cooperate with the investigation.
Alistair McLean, chief executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: “The footage of both training and on-street fundraising that I was shown by The Sunday Telegraph is deeply worrying. Professional fundraisers are legally required to make a clear statement disclosing the cost of the campaign and must not deliberately confuse a member of the public.
“Fundraising agencies must maintain the highest standards at all times, protecting and building the brands and reputations of the charity clients they work with. Any breach of these standards can have a weighty impact on trust and confidence in the charity, fundraising technique and, ultimately, donation levels.”
“The FRSB has discussed this issue with Marie Curie and has been advised by Tag Campaigns of their willingness to support our investigation into these allegations.”
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