Charities could be banned from certain forms of aggressive fund-raising if they break stricter rules recently proposed for the sector.
The new rules follow concerns regarding charities’ aggressive fund-raising tactics that particularly target the vulnerable and it has also proposed that the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), the main fund-raising regulator, should be scrapped.
Sir Stuart Etherington from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations “really doesn’t have the clout or the sanctions” to prevent bad practice and added that “We have to make sure that we restore public confidence in charity.
“Not all charities behaved in this manner, indeed I suspect it was very few, but we’ve got to tackle those problems, otherwise I think the charity brand, if you like, will be damaged.”
The FRSB agreed some reform was needed, but said “a revamped FRSB, properly resourced, would be the most viable and cost-effective way of moving forward”.
At the moment, the FRSB regulates standards set by fund-raisers themselves, but this has now been deemed an “inappropriate arrangement”.
Sir Stuart said of the new regulator said that “It will be able to say to charities, ‘That fund-raising method that you’re using, you’re using inappropriately and we’re going to stop you using that for a while.'”
Charities will then be able to submit future fund-raising plans to the regulator before being allowed to recommence their activities.
The death of Olive Cooke, the UK’s longest-serving poppy seller, put the issue of charity fund-raising in the spotlight earlier this year, after an inquest found that Mrs Cooke, 92, had received 267 charity letters in one month.
Consequently it has been suggested that the charities’ hounding for money had pushed her to take her own life, although her family insist the charities were not to blame.
Sir Stuart Etherington said that Britain was a “tremendously generous country”, however he questions whether charities were really considering “what it was like to be on the receiving end of some of their fund-raising methods”.
“The reality is that most people give to charities when they are asked to, rather than spontaneously, so charities do need to ask. But they should inspire people to give, not pressure them to.”
In July the government announced that charities are going to be forced to draw up written agreements to show how they would protect vulnerable people from aggressive fundraising tactics, found in amendments to the Charities Bill.
By Francesca Stainer