Sector could lose £4.2m in donations under IoF rule on no-cold-calling signs, research suggests

Research by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association suggests that requiring fundraisers to observe all no-cold-calling signs could mean a loss of 36,000 donors a year

Door-to-door fundraising: new IoF rule in place
Door-to-door fundraising: new IoF rule in place

The Institute of Fundraising’s new rule forbidding fundraisers to ignore no-cold-calling signs could result in the charity sector losing up to £4.2m in donations each year, research from the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association indicates.

The research, commissioned by the PFRA during the IoF’s review into no-cold-calling stickers, which began last May, indicates that the rule could mean a loss of nearly 36,000 donors a year and a reduction in annual income of between £3.4m and £4.2m.

The PFRA said in a statement that its members conducted the research among 7,000 people who had signed up for regular giving on the doorstep. This showed that 5.2 per cent of them were actually displaying no-cold-calling stickers: "If that figure were therefore extrapolated to the entire door-to-door sector of more than 680,000 [donors] in 2014/15, 35,777 donors would not have been recruited if a ban on no-cold-calling stickers had been in place.

"This would have meant a loss in annual donations of between £3.4m and £4.3m, using an estimated low of £96 a year and an estimated high of £120 a year."

Other research by the PFRA found that just over a million households in the UK are likely to be displaying stickers.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said the standards committee and the board had been fully aware of the PFRA figures when they made the decision that fundraisers should observe no-cold-calling stickers.

"The decision was based on the balance the IoF needs to make between the duty of charities to raise funds for their charitable causes and the need for fundraisers to maintain public trust and confidence," he said. "The whole purpose of the code is to set standards for fundraisers that are higher than the legal requirements where necessary. This particular decision took particular account of our ‘respectful’ principle."

Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, said last week that he believed no-cold-calling stickers should be observed by all charity fundraisers.

Asked for his reaction to the new rule, Dominic Will, joint managing director of the door-to-door agency Home Fundraising, said it was possible that Wilson’s comments last week had influenced the decision that was taken.

The Fundraising Standards Board last year rejected a complaint about one of Home Fundraising’s fundraisers – working on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer Care – after the person knocked on the door of someone displaying a no-cold-calling sign.

Will said that although Home Fundraising’s own policy stipulated that fundraisers should not knock on clearly labelled doors, he believed the IoF should have recognised the need for a distinction between salespeople and charity cold callers.

A spokeswoman for Marie Curie said: "We welcome this new rule, which creates better clarity for both fundraisers and members of the public, and we have been instructing our fundraisers to adopt this policy for some time."

Ben Oliver, business director at AGS Global Fundraising Services, the fundraising agency formerly known as Appco – which was also the subject of a rejected FRSB complaint relating to approaching people with no-cold-calling stickers on behalf of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home – said: "AGS Global Fundraising Services will, as always, work with the PFRA and the IoF to ensure we continue to comply with their codes of practice and guidance, while also supporting our charity partners to adequately fund their causes."

A spokeswoman for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said that the animal charity’s fundraising team was not in a position to respond to the new regulation until it had seen the full guidance, which the IoF is due to publish this summer.

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