RNLI decides to end door-to-door fundraising programme

Action for Children, Hft, Smile Train and the Children's Trust have also put their face to face programmes on hold since the summer

Door-to-door: RNLI programme to end from 1 January
Door-to-door: RNLI programme to end from 1 January

The RNLI has become the latest major charity to end its door-to-door fundraising programme, having decided the activity does not fit with the principle behind its new opt-in-only communications policy.

A spokeswoman for the RNLI said the charity’s door-to-door activity, which was carried out by volunteers, would end on 1 January. She said the charity expected to lose about £300,000 in the first year after stopping the activity.

Both Oxfam and the Royal British Legion have said over the past year that they would end their face-to-face fundraising activities.

The RNLI’s spokeswoman said its income from door-to-door fell from £408,000 in 2014 to £359,000 last year.

"About 20 per cent of our fundraising branches did some door-to-door fundraising, with individual branch income from this activity varying from £50 to £12,000 a year and the majority of branches raising between £1,000 and £3,000 each year," she said.

She added that some branches would be able to carry out alternative fundraising activities to make up the lost income.

"After the RNLI’s recent decision to adopt an opt-in approach to fundraising, we reconsidered our policy on door-to-door fundraising," she said. "A call on a householder at their home address represents an uninvited communication, made to someone who, in a large number of cases, will not have been asked if they are prepared to receive an approach from the RNLI.

"As such, we decided that this activity did not fit with the principle behind the RNLI’s new opt-in approach."

Several other charities have suspended their door-to-door programmes since the summer.

Four of the charities investigated as part of the Fundraising Regulator’s inquiry  into practices at the now defunct door-to-door agency Neet FeetAction for Children, the disability charity Hft, Smile Train and the Children’s Trust – suspended their door-to-door activity after The Sun newspaper reported in July that the agency had been using aggressive fundraising techniques on vulnerable people.

A spokeswoman for Hft said the charity had decided not to carry out any form of face-to-face fundraising "for the foreseeable future" until it was confident that the recommendations handed out by the Fundraising Regulator in its Neet Feet report had been fully implemented.

Face-to-face activity generated £279,701 – or 11 per cent of the charity’s total fundraising income – in the last financial year.

A spokesman for Action for Children, which is owed £100,000 in reimbursements by Neet Feet for people who were signed up by the agency but did not then donate, said the charity suspended its entire face-to-face programme in September but would review whether to resume it in 2017.

Similarly, both Smile Train and the Children’s Trust, which was the one Neet Feet charity client not found by the Fundraising Regulator to have breached the Code of Fundraising Practice, suspended their face-to-face campaigns while the regulator’s four-month investigation was taking place but said they were considering resuming them.

World Animal Protection suspended its face-to-face programme in July but resumed it in September with the agency YFR Fundraising.

The remaining three charities implicated in the Neet Feet case – Save the Children, Unicef and the RNIB – have maintained their face-to-face programmes but say they have tightened up their practices since the summer.

Unicef is working with the face-to-face agencies One Sixty, Together, YFR and Appco. "These agencies will be subject to even more extensive monitoring," a spokeswoman for the charity said.

According to their websites, the RNIB is working with Care to Give, PFS, YFR, Smile and DMD, and Save the Children is running street fundraising campaigns with the agencies Urban Leaf and One Sixty.

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