Anthony Nolan investigates claim that fundraiser 'conned' Shetland resident

A woman in Scalloway claims that a door-to-door fundraiser from the agency Appco Group UK signed her up to give £10 a month, when she had agreed to only £2.50

Door-to-door: fundraiser accused
Door-to-door: fundraiser accused

The blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan has opened an investigation after a door-to-door fundraiser working on its behalf allegedly left donors feeling "conned" into donating four times more than they agreed to.

The charity said the fundraiser, who was supplied by the agency Appco Group UK, was no longer working on its behalf after a woman from Shetland complained she had been signed up to donate £10 a month when she had agreed to pay only a quarter of that amount.

Appco Group UK said it thought confusion might have arisen if the fundraiser had tried to explain that a donation of £10 a month would equal £2.50 a week, but said it was investigating.

In a Facebook post headed "Shetland residents beware", Beverly Lamming of Scalloway said a man who had an official badge and marketing material for Anthony Nolan had knocked on her door and asked her to pledge £2 a month.

He signed her up as donor on his tablet, increasing the amount to £2.50, which she agreed to.

But she said: "I got an email from Anthony Nolan tonight confirming my direct debit for £10 per month. This is not what I agreed to. I'm pretty annoyed and feel conned.

"I do believe the guy was a genuine representative from the charity, but the way he got me to donate was just not ethical – he tricked me."

Lamming said she was worried that older people might not notice if they were paying more than they had agreed.

Two others commenting on the post said the same thing had happened to them or someone they knew. Lamming urged them to contact the charity to complain and cancel the direct debit, as she had done.

In a statement, Rufus Cruft, head of individual giving at Anthony Nolan, confirmed that fundraisers from Appco Group UK had been operating in the area on the charity’s behalf and it was aware of concerns from Shetland residents.

"We have already spoken to the residents affected and have taken immediate action," he said.

"The fundraiser in question is no longer working on our campaign and there will be a full investigation by ourselves and the agency.

"We can assure local residents that we require our fundraisers to operate to the very highest standards and respect the wishes of each and every potential donor. Any evidence of wrongdoing is always dealt with strongly."

He said the charity would maintain its relationship with Accpo Group UK, which he described as a reputable agency, and that the organisations worked closely to monitor fundraising activity.

A spokeswoman for Appco Group said: "We are still investigating this matter, but in this case we believe there might have been some confusion because fundraisers explain that a donation of £10 a month amounts to about £2.50 a week.

"We are now reviewing the information fundraisers provide to ensure absolute clarity."

In statements, both the charity and the agency said they had strict verification processes to detect "potential errors or confusion" before donations were processed, including a checklist that each donor was required to read and sign, and welcome telephone calls to verify the donation amount before payment was taken.

Anthony Nolan is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board, but an FRSB spokeswoman said it had not received any complaints about the organisation.

A spokesman for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator said the OSCR recognised that fundraising was an issue of interest to the public, but the charity had taken action in respect of the individual fundraiser.

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