PFRA to expand its penalty point system to cover doorstep fundraisers

Nick Henry, the regulator's head of standards, says its compliance regime will protect charities from disproportionate regulation and negative publicity

Nick Henry
Nick Henry

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is planning to expand its penalty point system to cover doorstep fundraisers.

The regulator introduced the system to cover street fundraisers last year. Charities and agencies receive 20, 50 or 100 penalty points for breaching fundraising rules. If an organisation receives more than 1,000 in a financial year, it is fined £1 per point.

The move is part of a new compliance regime for doorstep fundraising. Other measures include a regular survey of residents about their experiences of the method.

The new measures will be piloted among doorstep fundraisers in Greater London for six months from November.

The regulator said it hoped that the move would protect residents from poor fundraising practice and help charities avoid negative publicity. 

The PFRA said it would begin shadowing teams while they were fundraising to observe, record and report on practices, standards and behaviour. A new part-time member of staff would be hired for this role and was due to begin work by the end of the year, the regulator said. 

The new doorstep compliance officer would be able to issue penalty points for breaches of the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice and the PFRA’s doorstep rule book.

Residents will also be asked about their experience of doorstep fundraisers through a regular survey, conducted by the market research company Ipsos Mori, with the first to be completed by the end of the year.

The PFRA said its compliance staff had been attending training sessions for face-to-face fundraisers for the past two years and would continue to do so as part of the new regime. 

The aim is for a doorstep compliance benchmark of penalties accrued by fundraisers to be published. A Street Compliance Benchmark was announced in June. It is due to be published for the first time in November.

Nick Henry, the PFRA’s head of standards, said: "Our main aim, of course, is to protect residents from poor fundraising.

"But we also think that putting in place a thorough compliance regime will protect fundraising organisations from disproportionate regulation and negative or damaging publicity as more and more attention is focused on doorstep fundraising."

He said the regulatory body had always intended to put in place a complementary compliance regime for doorstep once the street version had bedded in.

The new regime comes as doorstep is coming under increasing scrutiny. More charities are using the technique and last year it attracted more complaints from residents than it did in 2011.

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