Hot issue: Is forcing chuggers to disclose their precise pay misleading?

By law, face-to-face fundraisers have to reveal whether or not they are paid. Now there is demand for them to be more transparent about what they earn.


Gordon Michie, director of development, Relationship Marketing

To make an informed judgement about the cost-effectiveness of face-to-face, you have to know the full cost of recruiting a donor.

As well as the cost of fundraisers' salaries, this includes the cost of producing marketing materials, management time, training and a whole host of other things.

Letting the donor know only one of these facts is meaningless because knowing the hourly rate of a face-to-face fundraiser does not give you enough information to assess the likely return on investment. Should fundraisers who give out welcome packs on the street say "I'm paid £8 an hour and this pack cost £1.21 to print"? What can people do with that information? How can they know whether £7.50 is good value for money and £9 is not?

The obligation for fundraisers to say they are paid is all about letting donors know they're not volunteers; it's not about assessing cost-effectiveness. There's also the matter of fairness. It's no one's business how much someone gets paid. We wouldn't demand to know a charity field worker's salary.


Adam Rothwell, researcher, Intelligent Giving

Salaries are not hard to understand. Most of us even have one of our own. So the idea that it would be misleading to force fundraisers to reveal theirs is puzzling.

Donors understand that charities don't run on thin air, and the law already forces face-to-face fundraisers to reveal whether they're paid. So why is revealing how much fundraisers earn such a big deal?

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association has said that if fundraisers were forced to make such a "bleak statement" of earnings, it would make face-to-face seem less efficient than it is. But that misses the point. If fundraisers want to explain the long-term return on investment from face-to-face, this is the perfect opportunity for them to do so.

Being transparent about earnings is important. If charities don't reveal how much their staff are paid, the public - not to mention journalists - might presume the worst. It looks as if charities have got something to hide, and that undermines trust.

Charities cannot afford to ignore this issue. Public trust in them is falling fast. Transparency is the only way to restore it.


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