The Institute of Fundraising has defended charity spending on fundraising after a Daily Mail article attacked the fees paid to face-to-face fundraising agencies.
The article, published on Saturday, criticised the "millions of pounds" being spent by some of the largest charities on street fundraising firms to recruit donors.
It gave the examples of the development charity Plan International, saying the average donor would have to pay for 27 months to cover the cost of hiring the agency One Sixty to carry out its fundraising campaign, and Unicef, which the newspaper said had a deal with the same company that meant the average donor would pay for a year before the charity began to raise any money.
But an IoF spokeswoman said in a statement that hiring such firms often worked out cheaper for the charity than attempting to raise money themselves.
"Without the work and expertise of agencies and partners, many charities would not be able to raise the money they do to make a difference in the world," she said.
"Fundraising will nearly always have a cost attached and it can often be cheaper and easier for charities to use fundraising partners. When they do so there are specific rules in place to make sure that the public are informed."
The article said face-to-face fundraisers had been criticised for "harassing" passers-by in order to get them to sign up, but did not give specific examples of such behaviour or say who had criticised them.
Daily Mail reporters had signed up to donate to a charity through a face-to-face fundraiser, the article said, and had not been told until just before they signed the form authorising the direct debit about the up-front fees paid to the fundraisers’ company by the charity.
These actions would not necessarily breach any legal requirements or the Code of Fundraising Practice. The code says the solicitation statement – information explaining the financial relationship between the charity and the third-party fundraiser – must be read to the potential donor before money is given or before any financial details are requested by the fundraiser.
Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and research at the IoF, also defended fundraising fees on his personal Twitter account.
"Without spending money on fundraising, charities can’t exist," he wrote. "£1 spent gets £4.20 back (of which a small amount goes on raising money in the future).
"Charities and their partner agencies are following the rules in place to give public information and be accountable.
"I look forward to the follow-up story where the Daily Mail sets out how much they charge charities for adverts in their paper and expresses outrage that some of your donations goes to paying them."
In a statement responding to the Mail story, Unicef said: "If working with fundraising companies like One Sixty became too expensive, we would stop using them.
"On average over the past five years, for every pound spent by Unicef UK, 70p went towards our work for children around the world, 29p was spent on raising another pound and 1p was spent on governance of the charity."
It said Unicef followed the Fundraising Regulator’s guidance and was "transparent and open with donors about the cost of raising funds".
No one from Plan International responded to Third Sector’s request for comment, but the Mail reported that Danielle Atkinson, head of individual giving at Plan International, said: "Raising funds costs money. Using agencies is an established way to do so efficiently, as we can control exactly how much we spend."