Britain’s top charities back proposed tough fundraising rules to protect vulnerable donors

by: Obert Madondo |  | Published September 17, 2015, by Charity Files

In a recent open letter, 17 chief executives of some of the UK’s most well known charities confirmed their support of proposed tough rules against aggressive fundraising techniques exploiting vulnerable members of the giving public.

“No one should ever feel pressured into giving. The vulnerable should always receive the strongest protection,” stated the letter, published in the Sunday Times on September 6, 2015. “We will support the establishment of a new and independent regulator with the power to proactively investigate, audit and impose strong penalties on any charity that breaks the rules on fundraising.”

The letter was coordinated by the Institute of Fundraising (IoF). The signatories include Oxfam, British Red Cross, The Royal British Legion and Save the Children.

According to the Guardian (UK), “Several well-known charities were implicated in a series of reports over the past three months revealing their links to private fundraising firms that used high-pressure tactics to squeeze cash out of elderly donors, bombarded them with mail and sold personal information about supporters to unscrupulous firms that targeted them for scams.”

Via the Institute of Fundraising, below is the full text of the British charities’ letter:

We live in an incredibly generous country. For generations, British people have dug deep to support a wide range of great causes here at home and overseas.

This generosity places a big responsibility on all UK charities to behave well in everything we do – especially in how we ask for support.

We know that there have been times where fundraising practice has failed to live up to these high standards. We are determined to change that.

No one should ever feel pressured into giving. The vulnerable should always receive the strongest protection. And we need to act quickly and decisively when any fundraising practice is found wanting.

As some of the UK’s leading charities we are absolutely committed to fundraising in a way that respects the rights of individuals and meets the expectations the public has in us. Where we need to change the way we seek the support of the public we will do so.

We will only ever behave in an open, honest and respectful way towards our donors and the public.

We welcome Sir Stuart Etherington’s current review of self-regulation of fundraising and will continue to work closely with governments and charity regulators around the UK to assess the need for any further safeguards that might be required.

We will support the establishment of a new and independent regulator with the power to proactively investigate, audit and impose strong penalties on any charity that breaks the rules on fundraising.

We will commit to a strengthened Code of Fundraising Practice to guide how we contact people and ask for support.

We will ensure at all times that we protect and safeguard those who might be vulnerable from undue pressure.

There is nothing wrong with seeking donations. Everybody leads busy lives and, no matter how deeply they care about a good cause, they often only give when asked.

If charities simply waited for donations, the many millions raised for good causes each year through the long standing and unwavering generosity of the public would be at risk. From protecting children from cruelty, helping tackle hunger to funding research into disease, we would achieve far less.

The trust put in us by our supporters demands the highest standards of fundraising. We must always strive to meet them.

Signed by:

Paul Boissier, Chief Executive, RNLI

Mike Adamson, Chief Executive, British Red Cross

David Canavan, Acting Chief Executive, RSPCA

Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive, Marie Curie

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive, RNIB

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK

Chris Simpkins, Director General, The Royal British Legion

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive, Scope

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive, NSPCC

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive, Alzheimer’s Society

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Now

Henny Braund, Chief Executive, Anthony Nolan

Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive, VSO International

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad