Door-to-door fundraisers should not knock on the doors of properties that display "no-cold-calling" stickers or signs, according to a new rule introduced by the Institute of Fundraising.
From 1 September the rule will for the first time form part of the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice. Guidance as to how it will work will be published over the summer, the IoF announced today.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association has also agreed to integrate the code change into its door-to-door compliance programme with immediate effect.
The IoF said in a statement that it expected compliance with the new rule to take place without "undue delay" but it recognised that some smaller fundraising organisations might require more time to ensure all their fundraisers were trained to adhere to it.
The decision to change the code – taken at an IoF board meeting yesterday – came after Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, said last week that he believed no-cold-calling stickers should be observed by all charity fundraisers, even if it meant the loss of some donations, in order to protect the long-term reputation of the sector.
The IoF agreed to set up a working group to review no-cold-calling signs in May 2014 after being urged to look into the issue by the Fundraising Standards Board. The latter had rejected a complaint from someone who was approached by a doorstep fundraiser from Home Fundraising on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer Care even though they were displaying a no-cold-calling sign.
In January, the FRSB asked the IoF to make this review a priority after it was obliged to reject another complaint from someone displaying a no-cold-calling sign, who this time had been approached by a fundraiser for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
Lawrie Simanowitz, a partner at the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite and an FRSB board member, said earlier this year that an FRSB survey had found that almost 40 per cent of householders thought the stickers should not apply to charities. Charities should nevertheless respect the stickers and not knock when they encountered them, he said.
Richard Taylor, chair of the IoF, said in a statement today: "It is right that fundraisers have introduced this new rule to stop door-to-door fundraisers knocking on doors displaying no-cold-calling stickers. As fundraisers we have to always be conscious of how we ask for money, and it is absolutely essential that as part of this we respect the wishes and preferences of the public."
Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive of the PFRA, said: "While the majority of our members already observe such stickers, this is a welcome clarification that gives householders a clear way to opt out if they choose. Today’s announcement shows that self-regulation can balance the needs of charities and the public who so generously support them."
Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, said he welcomed the code change. "In the long run, we hope that this change will not only minimise public complaints and protect an important income channel for charities, but will also enable practitioners to make better and more efficient use of their time, visiting households that are happy to engage with them on the doorstep."