But the FRSB’s adjudication on the matter, published today, calls for changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice to make the protocol for such situations clear in the future.
The FRSB’s report says the complainant thought the charity’s approach to fundraising was deceptive because they had not seen any promotional literature about the partnership between the charity and the local branch of a UK-wide restaurant chain, which is not named in the report.
The complainant felt that having a discretionary donation added to their bill failed to take into account their right to be able to make an active choice whether or not to donate to charity and put diners in an awkward position.
But the FRSB decided not to uphold the complaint, ruling that the fundraising initiative was compliant with the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice and appeared to have been carried out in an open and respectful manner.
It found that promotional literature about the campaign had been placed on each table and displayed centrally within the restaurant and that all customers had been given the opportunity to opt out of making a donation at the point of paying for their meals.
The FRSB also confirmed that charity had carried out due diligence to ensure that the campaign was carried out appropriately.
Andrew Hind, chair of the FRSB, said in a statement: "Discretionary donations have become increasingly common in restaurants and shops that want to generate income for charities as part of their social responsibility activity. It has become a popular way for many people to give to charity. As such, we recommend that further guidance is developed to support charities and third parties looking to fundraise in this way."
The report says this guidance should be designed to ensure that the addition of donations to the bill in venues such as restaurants, museums and art galleries was done in a respectful, open and transparent manner at all times.
It says the guidance should focus in particular on the importance of seeking buy-in from organisations that use the technique to raise funds that would not typically fall within the jurisdiction of the Code of Fundraising Practice.
Nikki Barraclough, executive director of Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, said: "We pride ourselves on adhering to the Code of Fundraising Practice and we’re pleased the FRSB concluded that Genesis acted in an appropriate way throughout the initiative and subsequent investigations.
"As a small charity, we rely solely on donations from the public to continue with our vital research into predicting and preventing breast cancer, so we wholeheartedly welcome any new guidelines that will reinforce openness and transparency within the charity sector."