Charity body backs radical shake-up of fundraising sector

Picture:  Greg MacveanPicture:  Greg Macvean
Picture: Greg Macvean
CHARITIES have been told to do more prevent vulnerable people being “inundated with fundraising requests” and take to take greater charge of work to raise donations hived off to “sub-contracted” firms.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation (SCVO), which represents charities, called on its members to change the way they raise cash to retain public trust.

Parts of the charitable sector have previously faced criticism for the use of commercial fundraisers, door-to-door collections as well as being warned against aggressive street fundraising.

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However, an SCVO review of the way charities operate said a shake-up of the way some of its members raise cash was needed due to practices “unpopular with the public” such as the use of squads of face-to-face fundraisers, sometimes referred to as “chuggers” or “charity muggers”.

The body, in a report published today, also found concerns among donors about “pushy, hard-sell fundraising” including a case that saw “repeated requests” for cash made to an elderly woman with failing eyesight.

Other complained of receiving “too many phone calls/texts” and of charities following up donations or direct debits to “pressure people to increase their donations”.

The SCVO said charities should continue to be self-regulating, but backed a “much more rigorous approach” such as the creation of a fundraising guarantee to the public about the good conduct of its members.

It highlighted “a need to do more to prevent vulnerable people being inundated with fundraising requests” and to make sure that “sub-contracted fundraising”, where private firms are hired by charities, is “more closely controlled”.

Martin Sime, SCVO chief executive, setting-out the proposed shake-up, said: “Everything charities do hinges on public trust, so it’s absolutely critical that we sit up and listen to what people are telling us. We can and must do better.

“Self-regulation is still the best way to oversee fundraising in Scotland but we need a much simpler approach. Charities and their trustees should take the lead in designing a new system of self-regulation.

“The review has given us a useful overview of the issues around fundraising. Now we want to see charities and other third sector organisations come together to find the answers to these challenges, and to set out a much more rigorous approach to self-regulation which everyone can trust.”

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Scotland’s social justice secretary Alex Neil, welcoming the report, said: “We want to make sure no-one can prey on the most vulnerable people in our society and that we can continue to place our trust in our charitable sector here in Scotland.”

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