PDSA suspends face-to-face fundraising programme for the rest of the year

It comes after the veterinary charity carried out an investigation into concerns over the agency Capll

Face-to-face fundraising
Face-to-face fundraising

The veterinary charity the PDSA has suspended its face-to-face fundraising programme for the remainder of the year after carrying out an investigation into concerns that the agency Capll was fundraising on a private site on its behalf without permission.

A spokesman for the charity told Third Sector that withdrawing from face-to-face recruitment would allow the PDSA to realign its activity to reflect the changing fundraising environment.

"The charity fundraising environment continues to evolve rapidly and we are committed to acting responsibly at all times, which is why we are taking the opportunity to review and, if necessary, to update and refine our procedures," he said.

"While this process is underway, we have decided to withdraw from face-to-face supporter recruitment for the remainder of the year."

The PDSA suspended all its national activity with Capll in August after receiving a complaint that the agency was signing people to direct debits in a shopping centre in Glasgow when it only had permission from the local council to hold a static information stall and direct potential donors to the charity’s website.

Following the initial suspension, the charity carried out a 10-day investigation into the agency. A spokesman for the PDSA said he was unable to share the findings with Third Sector.

He was also unable to say whether the charity was working with any other face-to-face agencies when it suspended the programme.

The charity informed the original complainant about its decision last week.

The complainant told Third Sector yesterday he planned to contact the Fundraising Regulator to determine whether it wished to launch its own investigation. A spokesman for the regulator said that neither the charity nor the agency were currently being investigated.

A spokesman for Capll said in a statement: "We acknowledge that PDSA’s withdrawal from the face-to-face market for the remainder of this year is part of a wider review of its fundraising strategy in response to the evolving fundraising environment. Capll continues to work in a collaborative and transparent manner with all charity partners."

The spokesman added that Capll had a mystery shopping programme which gave its clients full oversight of their campaigns and ensured compliance with sector regulations.

He declined to comment on the allegations against the agency.

The animal charities Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Blue Cross confirmed to Third Sector today that they were still working with Capll. A spokeswoman for Battersea said the charity had not been made aware of any concerns about the agency’s conduct.

A spokeswoman for the baby charity Tommy’s, which is also a client according to Capll’s website, was unable to confirm whether this was still the case.

Until last year, Capll had worked with charities only as a subcontractor for agencies including Fundraising Initiatives, which went into administration in October 2015. Capll acquired its first proprietary contract with a charity in November 2015.

The PDSA is the latest in a series of charities to have made significant changes to their face-to-face fundraising activity over the past 18 months. Oxfam ended its door-to-door fundraising programme in December 2015, while the Royal British Legion did the same two months earlier

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