FRSB calls for amendment to fundraising code after Clothes Aid breach

The regulator says fundraisers should not be permitted to deliver clothing collection bags to properties displaying 'no bags' signs

Clothes Aid and NSPCC
Clothes Aid and NSPCC

The Fundraising Standards Board has called on the Fundraising Regulator to amend the Code of Fundraising Practice after ruling that the charity collections company Clothes Aid repeatedly delivered collection bags to a household that had asked not to receive them.

In one of its final adjudication reports, the FRSB said today that Clothes Aid, which is a corporate member of the Institute of Fundraising, had breached the code of practice by delivering five clothing collection bags to a household in Cambridgeshire after receiving a request in 2007 for it to stop doing so.

The property concerned also had a sign on the door saying it did not wish to receive the bags but Clothes Aid said it did not see the sign and it was not apparent when the property was visited shortly after the complaint was made last November.

The FRSB ruled that Clothes Aid had breached the "respectful" principle of the code by failing to put in place sufficient procedures to ensure unwanted deliveries of bags were not made in spite of the company giving assurances to the contrary. "As a consequence, the complainant’s wishes had not been respected," the report says.

The FRSB urged the Fundraising Regulator to consider amending the code, which it inherited from the IoF last month, to make it a requirement for fundraisers to not deliver bags to properties displaying "no bags" signs.

Although four of the bags were delivered on behalf of the NSPCC, the regulator found the charity had not itself breached the code because it had made reasonable efforts to monitor Clothes Aid’s actions.

But the FRSB said it was concerned that the charity’s complaints monitoring had failed to identify the fact that the complainant had raised similar concerns in the past.

The regulator said that since the complaint, both Clothes Aid and the NSPCC had enhanced their processes to respect the wishes of householders who choose not to receive collection bags.

Commenting on the adjudication, Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: "This adjudication highlights the need for charities and agencies to respect the wishes of members of the public in relation to fundraising asks. ‘No bags’ signage means what it says.

"We will consider whether the Code of Fundraising Practice needs to be amended to reinforce that point."

Michael Lomotey, business manager at Clothes Aid, said in a statement that it was the first time in the company’s 20-year history that it had been the subject of an FRSB adjudication of this kind.

"It is with huge regret we have received this complaint, but I believe that the mitigating processes we have now put in place will protect and prevent from any other future incident happening of this nature," he said.

"We have fully taken on board all of the findings and recommendations of the FRSB and through regular reporting and tighter account management with our charities, I feel confident that this will contribute towards stopping any similar future complaints being made."

A spokesman for the NSPCC said the charity was pleased the FRSB ruled that it did not breach the code. "We are confident that we now have robust complaints monitoring procedures in place," he said.

He declined to say whether the charity had appointed a new director of fundraising following the sudden departure of Paul Farthing in April. The role is being covered by Nigel Spencer, the charity’s head of individual giving, until a permanent replacement is found.

Farthing told Third Sector last month that he had not found a new role.

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