Fundraising methods of human rights charity put donors at ‘unacceptable’ level of risk

The fundraising methods of a human rights charity put donors at ‘unacceptable levels of risk’ and placed ‘undue pressure’, an investigation by the Fundraising Regulator has concluded.

An inquiry into the International Liberty Association, which was set up with the aim of promoting respect for human rights in the Middle East, found the charity had placed ‘undue pressure’ on donors to offer financial contributions of up to £11,000.

Furthermore, the investigation revealed trustees had failed to effectively oversee the fundraising activities conducted on behalf of the charity, which it claimed were putting members of the public at ‘unacceptable levels of risk’.

The regulator said it had taken the decision to name the charity because of the “seriousness of the concerns identified” and to “highlight the steps being taken by the charity to address those concerns”.

It added it was necessary for the regulator to highlight the potential risk to the public inherent in the approach the charity took to fundraising and the need for effective trustee oversight and control of volunteers when charities of all sizes fundraise.

The investigation into the charity was initially opened after the regulator received a number of similar complaints, which were focussed on visits to members of the public at their homes from volunteers seeking donations.

According to the regulator, the complaints all contained allegations that the volunteers, who operate in pairs, placed “significant and undue pressure” on the potential donors while at the same time seeking significant financial contributions. In two cases, fundraisers suggested loans could be taken out to make a donation.

The regulator concluded that ILA’s fundraising operation is “lacking in appropriate oversight, carrying a high risk to donors as well as the organisation itself”.

Commenting on the announcement, Fundraising Regulator chief executive Gerald Oppenheim said: “The fundraising practices of ILA clearly contravene the Code of Fundraising Practice and represents a risk to donors as well as the organisation itself. We were particularly concerned about the methods used by fundraisers and lack of oversight from trustees.

“This decision includes clear recommendations to ensure that improvements are made in order to mitigate the risk to the public and the charity. We will be reviewing ILA’s compliance to ensure that their fundraising practices improve.”

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