PFRA increases number of mystery shopper locations

The regulator plans to increase its coverage to include cities and towns in the north of England

Street fundraising
Street fundraising


  • This article was corrected on 23 November - see final paragraph

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is increasing its street presence and expanding the number of locations where it will carry out mystery shopping exercises that assess face-to-face fundraisers.

The regulator already uses mystery shoppers in London, Bristol and Edinburgh, among other places, and carries out its own spot checks in London. It now plans to increase its coverage to include cities and towns in the north of England.

The FRSB has appointed a former street fundraiser, Marcus Letts, as its new compliance officer. He will do more spot checks, and the increased coverage of mystery shopping will be done by a private contractor.

The PFRA carries out spot checks on individual fundraisers to ensure that members are complying with guidance from the Institute of Fundraising and the PFRA on face-to-face fundraising. Individual feedback is then sent to the various agencies explaining where they are doing well and how they need to improve.

"Managers tell me they find mystery shopping and spot checks useful incentives for getting fundraisers to follow best practice," said Nick Henry, head of standards at the PFRA. "I can't see it doing any harm for the image of face-to-face fundraising, either."

The PFRA has carried out mystery shopping in Sheffield and Manchester since the beginning of November. Henry said it would start doing spot checks in other towns and cities where the PFRA has site management agreements, including Guildford in Surrey and Nottingham.

"I would like to work more externally with this increased capacity we now have," said Henry. "A monitoring role is of value and will remind members they are not fundraising in a vacuum."

  • Marcus Letts has been appointed by the PFRA, not the FRSB

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