Local authorities give thumbs up to site-management agreements

According to a report from the Institute of Fundraising, the vast majority believe agreements about where street fundraising can take place have been effective or very effective

Face-to-face: subject to a number of SMAs
Face-to-face: subject to a number of SMAs

More than 90 per cent of local authorities that have site-management agreements for face-to-face fundraisers believe the deals have been effective, according to a report by the Institute of Fundraising.

Of 51 councils surveyed, 47 (92 per cent) said they believed SMAs, which allow a local council to agree with the IoF when and where street fundraising will be allowed, had been effective or very effective.

The majority of respondents – 63 per cent – said the number of complaints had decreased since their SMA was introduced and 22 per cent said it had made no difference. At least one council said complaints had increased.

The IoF administers and enforces 129 SMAs around the UK.

The survey was conducted as part of a report, Achieving Excellence in Public Fundraising, published today, which reviews the fundraising regulation compliance system two years on from the merger of the IoF with the Public Fundraising Association.

The report says that in IoF’s mystery shopping tests of private-site fundraising in the year to 31 March 2018, the percentage of mystery shops that resulted in penalty points being issued had dropped to 28 per cent, down from 44 per cent in the pilot run in 2016/17. This has happened despite the number of mystery shops increasing from 253 in the pilot to 940 in 2017/18.

The report says: "Whilst these findings are positive, the private-site mystery shopping programme is comparatively new and we will be looking to see the trend of improved standards continue over future years following the first full year programme."

Overall, 864,500 people signed up to donate by direct debit in 2017/18 after conversations with a public fundraisers, the report says.

Of these, 406,000 were through private-site fundraising, 365,000 were the result of door-to-door fundraising and 93,500 sign-ups came through street fundraising.

The report says 71 per cent of organisations that are part of the IoF’s self-certification programme, which allows charities to review their fundraising processes and ensure they are fit for purpose, said it had improved their understanding of compliance issues and they would recommend the programme to others.

In his introduction to the report, Alex Xavier, director of membership, compliance and professional development at the IoF, said: "I’m pleased to see that across-the-board progress is being made. Our mystery shopping programme continues to drive improved performance, the local authorities that we have site-management agreements with report them as being effective, our new private-site programme is already seeing results and we have introduced a new call-levelling programme for telephone fundraising.

"There can always be improvements and more to do, but I’m hugely encouraged by how charities and their partner agencies have pulled together to reach higher standards and improve performance."

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