Beware agencies that use charities as cash cows, Rob Wilson warns

In an interview with Third Sector, the Minister for Civil Society says charities should not use fundraising agencies if they don't know what they're doing

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson

Too many charities use fundraising agencies that treat them like "cash cows", according to Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society.

In his first interview of 2016, Wilson told Third Sector he believed that many charities had not properly considered their relationship with donors from a long-term perspective, with too many using agencies to fundraise on their behalf.

He said too many charities had been using fundraising agencies, which had thought of the charities as cash cows, to be constantly pushed for money.

"That, as we’ve found, is not good for charities generally," he said. "It’s not good for the reputation of the sector."

Asked if he believed charities should stop working with agencies, he said he did not want to interfere.

But he added: "If I ran a charity, I would have to weigh up the evidence in terms of what it could raise in funds against how it would be raised and the level of oversight we would have of it.

"It’s really important that you don’t use these organisations if you don’t know what they’re doing. If I were a chief executive or a trustee of a charity, I would make sure I was on top of the detail of what was happening day to day. I would go and listen to phone calls occasionally; I’d have members of my team doing that as well."

He said the proposed Fundraising Preference Service, which is being designed by a working group led by the chair of the Direct Marketing Commission, George Kidd, should encourage better behaviour by charities, "because if there’s this button that can be pushed that resets everything, it means that more charities will think more carefully about their relationship with the donor".

For more from this interview, see the February edition of Third Sector, to be published on 22 January.

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