R Fundraising to close with the loss of 99 jobs

The telephone fundraising agency cites problems with charities cancelling campaigns and reviewing their strategies in the difficult fundraising climate

Telephone fundraising
Telephone fundraising

R Fundraising, the telephone fundraising and outsourcing agency, is to close with the loss of 99 jobs, its parent company Fundraising Initiatives said today.

A statement from Fundraising Initiatives, which became one of the largest fundraising agencies in the UK when it bought R Fundraising in January, said that its board had decided "current market conditions" had given it no choice but to close its subsidiary because its position had become "untenable". The agency's clients included Samaritans.

Fundraising Initiatives said the move was part of a major restructure of the parent company after a reshuffle of its senior management team and a strategic review of its global business.

"It is with regret that R Fundraising Limited will shortly be taking steps to be placed into administration, with a total of 99 staff being made redundant," the statement said.

Eighty-two of the staff are based at the R Fundraising offices in Dunfermline, Scotland, and 17 are based in Manchester.

Third Sector understands that R Fundraising has been affected severely in the aftermath of the death of Olive Cooke in May, with several large charity clients suspending or pulling out of their contracts with the agency.

The agency’s closure leaves Fundraising Initiatives without a permanent telephone fundraising operation, although it does have an in-house call centre that is staffed to support specific campaigns relating to its face-to-face activities.

R Fundraising said it had 200 employees when it was first acquired in January. Its founder, Hugh McCaw, a fellow of the Institute of Fundraising, was reported at the time to be taking on the role of director of strategic accounts at Fundraising Initiatives, but he left the agency several months ago.

The agency said that Gordon Michie, a trustee of the IoF who was managing director of R Fundraising, had been appointed group client services director at Fundraising Initiatives as part of the management restructure.

The former chief operating officer of Fundraising Initiatives, Martin Jervis – who led the acquisition of R Fundraising – left the group in June. He told Third Sector this had nothing to do with the agency’s imminent closure.

Hamish Horton, who joined Fundraising Initiatives as its group managing director last month from the charity direct marketing firm Valldata, told Third Sector: "While we will not name specific charities, much like experiences felt across the rest of the telephone fundraising industry clients have been cautious in reviewing their strategies and some have pulled campaigns. If several clients at the same time pull work unexpectedly it can be catastrophic for a small agency."

The news comes after GoGen, the telephone fundraising agency at the centre of a Daily Mail investigation into fundraising practices, announced last week that it had ceased trading.

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