Regulator to pilot online system for allocation of street fundraising sites

Sally de la Bedoyere of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association tells conference that such a scheme would improve transparency of face-to-face

Sally de la Bedoyere
Sally de la Bedoyere

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association will test a new online system for allocating sites to street fundraisers in the new year.

Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s face-to-face fundraising conference in London yesterday, Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the PFRA, said the regulator was also considering how a similar system could work for doorstep fundraising.

The scheme would increase the transparency of face-to-face fundraising, she said.

"Agencies, charities and councils will be able to go online and see what is happening, where and when," she said.

The new scheme could also be expanded to allow the public to look at charities’ face-to-face activities online, she said: "It is only a small step to allow the public that kind of visibility and transparency."

De la Bedoyere said the scheme would be piloted for street fundraising in the new year.

The PFRA is is working on a similar online system for doorstep that would ensure only a few charities would work in the same place at the same time, said de la Bedoyere.

She said the system might involve a rest cycle for areas, like fallow fields in crop rotation.

The PFRA currently organises or helps to organise the allocation of fundraising sites to its members in the UK using three different systems. In London, allocations to the 135 fundraising sites are run on a four-week basis – charities bid for space by telling the PFRA the number of fundraisers they will have working during this period.

The regulator runs diaries in other cities and towns. For some locations the agencies or in-house teams sort the sites out among themselves.

De la Bedoyere also warned that the sector must learn lessons from street face-to-face activity and take note of "indicators of future unrest" about doorstep fundraising.

She said there had been no steep rise in poor fundraising practice or a media uprising against doorstep fundraising, "but there is a challenge coming, and we can learn from dealing with similar challenges with street face-to-face".

After Lord Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act, the Public Administration Select Committee’s investigation of regulation of the voluntary sector and the Office for Civil Society’s formal response, she said, the sector had been put on notice to sort out self-regulation.

"We really are expected to improve," she said. "Face-to-face is judged by the government and other stakeholders to be most controversial, but it remains the most powerful way of recruiting committed givers."

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