The Fundraising Regulator has upheld a complaint against a charity that continued to contact a person with dementia despite repeated requests for communication to stop.
The regulator yesterday published its adjudication of a complaint against the Church Urban Fund, the Church of England charity that supports local communities.
The report says that the complainant completed four requests through the Fundraising Preference Service between December 2017 and October 2019 to stop communication from the charity to the complainant’s relative, who had dementia.
Despite this, the decision says, the charity phoned the person with dementia in December last year to thank them for a previous donation.
During this call, the person consented to being added to another mailing list and further mail was sent to them that month.
The regulator found that the charity did not have a recording of the phone call, but provided the regulator with the script that was issued to staff, which did not provide guidance on detecting the potential vulnerability of a donor during a telephone conversation or what they should do if they had concerns.
The Church Urban Fund did not have a formalised process to check that suppression requests made through the FPS had been carried out until the regulator raised the complaint with the charity, the adjudication says.
The regulator found that the charity had acted in contravention of the FPS request and had breached the section of the Code of Fundraising Practice relating to the service.
It said it would send a copy of its decision to the Information Commissioner.
The regulator said its investigation also raised concerns that the charity’s staff members had not been equipped to recognise when they were talking to potentially vulnerable people.
The regulator said it was encouraged that, in light of the complaint, the Church Urban Fund had instigated a review of the processes it had in place for recording FPS suppression requests.
It made recommendations including that the charity should review its database to ensure that its records accurately reflected all of its communications with donors and consider reviewing its policy and training about dealing with potentially vulnerable people.
A spokesman for the Church Urban Fund said the charity had “rapidly complied with all the recommendations and amended our processes”.
He said the charity had new policies in areas including identifying vulnerable people, consent and safeguarding.
“All our staff have attended a training course on recognising and responding to members of the public who are potentially vulnerable,” he said.
Charity and agency breached fundraising code
In another adjudication published yesterday, the regulator found that Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK and its agency, Fundraising Support, had breached the fundraising code by delivering a charity bag to a restricted address.
The complainant said the charity was contacted in April 2019 with a request that charity bags not be delivered to that address. But another charity bag was delivered in June 2019.
The charity’s agency argued that the complaint was not valid because the “complainant’s front door and window did not have a sign showing that they did not want to receive charity bags” and that the lack of a door number at the property in question could also cause confusion.
But the regulator concluded that by delivering the bag the agency “engaged in fundraising that was unreasonably intrusive, which is in breach of the code”.
It said: “We also had serious concerns that the agency did not consider the complaint to be valid and thought it acceptable to deliver charity bags to properties on its banned address list.
“Therefore, we found that the agency was not learning from complaints, so was in breach of the code.”
A statement from Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK said: “Our charity conducted an internal investigation regarding this case.
“As a result, we could not place the blame solely on our agent, the distributor in particular, as it was confirmed that the house did not have a number or a ‘no junk mail’ sign, as evidenced by the photographs.
“Following this investigation, we have implemented measures to help prevent cases like this from happening in the future.
“We have also implemented the recommendations outlined by the Fundraising Regulator and have taken additional measures to monitor our agent.”