A by-law proposed in Birmingham is a "disproportionate" brake on face-to-face fundraising

A better solution would be a site management agreement, as in other cities, writes Ceri Edwards of the IoF

Ceri Edwards
Ceri Edwards

The Institute of Fundraising recently hit out at a proposed Birmingham by-law to restrict fundraising that will be voted on by councillors in the city this Wednesday (16 October).

The Institute’s chair, Mark Astarita, recently wrote to the leader and chief executive of Birmingham City Council, expressing concern over the proposed by-law. which would prevent charities from being able to fundraise on the street.

The letter, signed by seven other charities, highlighted concerns that the by-law, should it be implemented, will have a detrimental effect on the services that charities are able to provide.

"The income generated from face-to-face fundraising is vital in funding our services to our beneficiaries... not just in Birmingham, but throughout the UK and all over the world," the letter says.

"In these difficult economic times, were we to lose this level of support it is almost certain that the reduction in voluntary income that would result would mean we would have to cut services to our beneficiaries."

The letter was signed by the British Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, Care International UK, Concern Universal, Friends of the Earth, Marie Curie Cancer Care, the National Deaf Children’s Society and Shelter – organisations who all currently use face-to-face fundraising. The letter urges Birmingham City Council to work with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association through a voluntary agreement that would balance the ability for charities to ask for support with the right of the public to not feel that they are put under too much pressure to give.

Face-to-face fundraising is one of the most successful and cost-effective ways of attracting donors. Of course, it is important that any activity is respectful and follows best practice – fundraisers should always be sensitive to ensure that they do not cause any annoyance or pressurise the public.

PFRA Site Management Agreements are an established way for face-to-face fundraising to be regulated, allowing a council to minimise any disruption that might be caused by agreeing on the location and time that fundraising can take place, as well as the numbers of fundraisers that can be present. The by-law proposed in Birmingham is disproportionate: it will reduce donations and threaten services. Let’s hope a solution is agreed so that the good causes in and around Birmingham that benefit from this fundraising are assured of a sustained future.

Ceri Edwards, director of policy and communications, Institute of Fundraising

This article appears on a page edited by the Institute of Fundraising and hosted by ThirdSector.co.uk

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