The door-to-door fundraising agency Home Fundraising has gone into voluntary administration, putting more than 600 jobs at risk.
The company has suspended all operations in its 16 regional offices today and appointed administrators from HW Fisher & Company to actively seek buyers for all or part of the business and assets, it said in a statement.
Dominic Will, joint managing director of Home, blamed the costs of downscaling the business to adapt to a changing marketplace.
The statement, released this morning, said Home’s contract model of payment by results would minimise the risk of liability for its charity clients.
According to the last accounts the company filed with Companies House, for the year to 31 March 2017, the company had a turnover of £22m, but made a profit of only £556,000. The year before it made a loss of £181,000.
In May last year the company entered a company voluntary arrangement – a deal that allows companies to pay creditors over an extended period of time while still trading – to pay off more than £1.5m worth of debt, including £1.3m owed to HM Revenue & Customs.
In a statement, Will, who is also a board member at the Institute of Fundraising, said: "We are deeply saddened that, after so many years in the sector, Home Fundraising must go into administration.
"In particular, we feel for our fundraisers and staff, who’ve been such passionate advocates for the charities we have worked with and have initiated so many long-standing donor relationships. Our staff have undoubtedly been Home’s biggest asset.
"It’s been an extremely difficult time for fundraising agencies in recent years, with the need to adapt to a dramatically changing marketplace."
He said the "considerable uncertainty" in the UK economy had affected many businesses with "significant staff and infrastructure costs" and pointed to Home’s model of directly recruiting and training staff.
"Ultimately, despite all of our efforts, we have been unable to reconcile the cost of adapting and downscaling within the capacity of the ongoing business. Taking the company into administration at this juncture is the most responsible course of action."
But he said that, although the scale of the face-to-face market had reduced in recent years, he believed that dialogue channels could remain a key part of the fundraising mix.
"We would like to take this opportunity to give heartfelt thanks to all of our clients, our staff and sector supporters over the 16 years we have worked together," he said.
Neil Hope, joint managing director, said the company had raised nearly £1bn in its 16-year history.
"Despite the obvious sadness at this time, that is a legacy everyone connected to Home can rightly be proud of," he said.
Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said the announcement was sad news for the fundraising community.
He said: "We know that door-to-door fundraising is one of the hardest jobs in the profession, and the team at Home took training and development very seriously, so we hope that all of its highly skilled and committed fundraisers find alternative jobs within the profession."