Fundraisers need to do more to allay donors’ Covid-19 anxieties, warns regulator

Charity fundraisers are being urged by the regulator to do more to address anxiety among the public amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fundraising Regulator chief executive Gerald Oppenheim says public concerns around social distancing and the spread of infection have increased since in person fundraising resumed when lockdown eased during summer.

This includes fears of infection when charity shop bags are posted to the public and relating to social distancing fears when approached by street and door-to-door fundraisers.

“We noticed as charities returned to fundraising from the pubic there was an increase in the number of complaints we were getting to us,” said Oppenheim.

He said that in July when fundraising activity resumed the level of complaints was close to the maximum level it usually receives during a typical autumn, as charities launch their Christmas fundraising campaigns.

“A lot of the complaints that came in July and since have been anxieties about being approached in the street or their door step by a charity fundraiser or working for an agency on their behalf.

“Very often those anxieties we do our best to dispel by quoting the guidance we have issued and that if they think the charity has breached that in some way they should give us the details.”

Oppenheim, who was speaking at Charity Times' Leadership Conference, urges charities to make sure they are helping alleviate the public’s fears around Covid-19 and the spread of infection while fundraising.

He gives the example of two charity fundraisers who called on his home and he was impressed by their compliance with guidance, which included keeping to a 2m distance and using hand sanitizer for any sharing of tablet screens.

He said: “It is going to be for each fundraiser to recognise ‘oh, I’ve just started to speak to someone who is pretty self evidently uncomfortable’, a bit of body language may give that away. It is perhaps worth checking ‘are you alright speaking with me speaking to you’.”

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