The veterinary charity the PDSA has suspended its work with the fundraising agency Capll after receiving a complaint that the agency was carrying out face-to-face fundraising on its behalf on a private site where it did not have permission to do so.
In an email dated 24 August, a member of the PDSA’s marketing team said the charity had suspended all national activity with the agency while it carried out an investigation into concerns raised by the complainant.
"We are currently at the fact-finding stage, gathering all of the information required to conduct a full and proper audit, and would anticipate that this will take approximately seven to 10 days to complete," said the email, which was sent by the charity to the complainant and has been seen by Third Sector.
"Whilst this investigation is ongoing I can confirm that all national activity with Capll has been suspended."
Until last year, Capll had worked with charities only as a subcontractor for agencies including Fundraising Initiatives, which went into administration in October last year.
The complainant, who did not wish to be named, told Third Sector he had contacted the charity after discovering that Capll was signing people to direct debits in a shopping centre in Glasgow when it had permission from Glasgow City Council to hold only a static information stall and direct potential donors to the charity’s website.
He said the agency had not obtained the permission it required from the Public Fundraising Association to carry out such fundraising at this site. If found to be true, this would constitute a breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice.
The complainant was also concerned that the agency’s fundraisers were recommending to prospective donors that they signed up as PDSA donors for just a year, saying this would result in a loss to charity once the agencies’ costs had been deducted.
A spokesman for the PDSA said in a statement: "We can confirm that we are looking into a concern raised with us over recent fundraising activity. Our investigation is currently at an early stage, so it is inappropriate for us comment further."
He confirmed that the charity had decided to suspend any national fundraising activity with Capll for the time being "as a matter of course".
Fundraising Initiatives came under similar criticism after it had closed down.
The Fundraising Standards Board revealed in July that Fundraising Initiatives had breached the code of practice by misleadingly telling at least one local authority that it planned to conduct an awareness-raising campaign when it was actually soliciting for direct-debit donations on behalf of the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
Capll did not respond to repeated requests for comment.