- This story has been clarified: see final paragraph.
Only charities that are members of the Fundraising Standards Board and file their annual returns on time with the Charity Commission will be able to fundraise at nearly 1,000 of the 3,000 train stations in England and Wales under a new initiative to promote safer giving on the rail network.
The initiative was launched as part of an agreement between the Charity Commission, the FRSB and seven of the nation’s major rail and station operators: Abellio Greater Anglia, FirstGroup, London Overground, London Underground, Network Rail, Northern Rail and South West Trains, which together manage more than 1,500 stations.
FRSB membership will be a requirement of fundraising at about two thirds of these stations; at the rest, charities will be asked if they are FRSB members and operating companies will take this into account when giving permission to fundraise.
London Underground and London Overground are among the companies making FRSB membership a requirement. An FRSB spokeswoman said she could not name the others because they had not yet agreed for the information to be released.
Charities fundraising at the designated stations will have to complete a standardised application form, providing details of their collectors and planned collections at railway stations, as well as informing the collectors of their obligation to maintain best practice standards for cash collections according to the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice.
Sarah Atkinson, head of information and communications at the Charity Commission, said: "This initiative takes a significant step in helping protect train passengers from fraudulent collectors and increasing public trust and confidence in charities. With consistent processes in place, the public can feel reassured that they are donating to an organisation that has been through checks and remains accountable by filing its annual information on time, and that their money is going to the right place."
Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, said: "FRSB membership is now a requirement for charities that wish to collect at any underground station and many more rail stations nationwide. We see this as a vital step forward in promoting public trust and confidence."
Rail and station operators are also working closely with the British Transport Police to ensure that suspicious activity is promptly reported and investigated. Chief superintendent Paul Brogden said that operators should be vigilant about fundraising applications from potential fraudsters.
"Charity fraud does exist on the transport network and there is a real concern that genuine charities might be at risk of being defrauded, which is why we encourage charities to be alert," he said. "The relatively small cost of a CRB check would help deter the long-term risk of reputational damage to charities by minimising fraud and championing safer giving."
- The original story did not contain the information that the number of stations covered by the agreement totals 1,500 and that FRSB membership will not be a requirement at one third of them.