Fundraising Regulator investigating complaint into RNIB fundraising agency

The face-to-face agency YFR Fundraising says the complaint about its usage of solicitation statements is "totally unsubstantiated"

< This article has been corrected; see final paragraph

The Fundraising Regulator is investigating a complaint against the sight-loss charity RNIB and the face-to-face fundraising agency YFR Fundraising, a spokesman for the regulator has confirmed.

The complaint, originally lodged with the Fundraising Standards Board earlier this year, states that a fundraiser from YFR did not give a solicitation statement while seeking direct debit sign-ups on the RNIB’s behalf in a supermarket in Lancashire, although the agency denies this.

The complainant, who did not wish to be named, told Third Sector that they were also concerned YFR fundraisers were collecting direct debits details in supermarkets, including Tesco and Coop stores, despite this being against the companies’ policy nationwide, and were not fundraising at locations they claimed to be at in documents published on the RNIB’s website.

He said that Wanda Hamilton, group fundraising director at the RNIB, had spoken to him directly about his concerns but that he was not satisfied with the charity’s response.

The case has since been passed on to the Fundraising Regulator, which told the complainant earlier this month that it was investigating the complaint under stage 2 of its complaints process.

Stage 2 complaints are investigated if a complainant believes their complaint has not been resolved sufficiently by the charity or agency concerned. The regulator considers any evidence and seeks a resolution to the matter.

If either party is not happy with the stage 2 decision, they can ask for an external review.

A spokesman for the regulator confirmed today that it was investigating the complaint but said he was unable to share any details.

He said there were no initial findings yet and that it will be decided a later date when and whether the findings will be publically disclosed.

He said that once the regulator had some findings it would advise the charity, the agency and the complainant.

A spokeswoman for the RNIB said that the charity did not comment on active investigations.

Michelle Greaves, compliance and call centre manager at YFR Fundraising, told Third Sector the complaint was "totally unsubstantiated". 

She said the agency was contacted by the regulator on 7 October and had complied with its request to supply documentary evidence relating to the case. 

"We have yet to receive any formal response," she said. "It is our understanding having communicated with the Fundraising Regulator that the investigation has yet to produce any official findings or reach a formal conclusion." 

YFR’s clients include Action for Blind People and Unicef, according to the agency’s website. 

Earlier this week, the PDSA decided to suspend its face-to-face fundraising programme after carrying out an investigation into concerns that its former face-to-face agency Capll was fundraising on a private site on its behalf without permission. 

< This article originally said in the standfirst that the agency said the complaint had been "substantiated" but, in fact, the agency said the complaint was "unsubstantiated". We apologise for the error. 

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