Salvation Army and JustGiving 'broke fundraising code', watchdog reveals

The charities are among those named by the Fundraising Regulator under its new policy of explaining which organisations it has investigated

The Salvation Army, JustGiving and Leukaemia Care are among the first organisations found to have breached the Code of Fundraising Practice under the Fundraising Regulator’s new system of naming every organisation it investigates.

Until today the Fundraising Regulator, which was founded in 2016, has not revealed the names of the charities it has investigated, except in some instances when the case was in the public domain, such as the President's Club.

But the regulator's board agreed last year to begin publishing quarterly the names of every organisation investigated, regardless of whether the complaint is upheld.

Of the 10 rulings published today, eight included code breaches.

One adjudication revealed that the Salvation Army sent direct marketing to 83 people whose names should have been removed from its lists.

The error was discovered when a person complained to the charity that their mother had received three mailings despite a request to stop.

The regulator's report said the Salvation Army took two months to update its records after the suppression request and had apologised for the "unacceptable oversight", which led to the discovery that 82 other people received its February mailing in error.

The report said the Salvation Army had agreed to improve its internal data-management processes and now allows only experienced staff members to collate mailing lists.

A spokesman for the Salvation Army said it took complaints seriously and regretted the error.

"In response we have changed our processes, which have been approved by our data-protection and risk-management teams.

"The regulator has said it is satisfied with the steps we have taken and has made no further recommendations."

In a separate ruling, the regulator said the online fundraising platform JustGiving failed to respond properly to a person who complained that Gift Aid had been removed from a donation.

"We recommended that JustGiving reviews how it investigates complaints about Gift Aid removal and information provided to complainants," the investigation report said.

A JustGiving spokeswoman said: "We have already acted on the recommendation the regulator made about this isolated case and provided all of our customer support team with further training."

The regulator also found that Leukaemia Care and Bliss breached the code when a person with a "no charity bag" sticker on their letterbox received bags sent on the charities' behalf from the agency East London Textiles.

The regulator asked all three parties to write to it within two months outlining what action they had taken in response to a series of recommendations.

A Leukaemia Care spokeswoman said: "Leukaemia Care’s contract with East London Textiles ended on 9 September 2019. At this current time, we will not be engaging in this form of fundraising."

The armed forces charity Transformation for Veterans was ruled to have breached the code for not properly monitoring third-party fundraising.

ECS Textiles, an agency acting on behalf of the charity, continued to deliver charity bags after a person contacted both the charity and the agency requesting that no more bags be sent. The person did not receive a response.

Nobody at Transformation for Veterans was available for comment.

A case against the Associated Country Women of the World, an international aid charity, was upheld after a person claimed they were misled into believing that by adopting a fundraising project it was the only organisation raising funds for that particular cause.

The regulator recommended that the ACWW should review how surplus funds from its 2016 and 2017 adopted projects scheme were used and implement a complaints policy.

Tish Collins, chief executive of ACWW, told Third Sector it had already changed its procedures and planned to introduce a complaints policy at its October board meeting.

Complaints against Macmillan Cancer Support, the National Deaf Children's Society and the NSPCC were rejected.

Catherine Orr, head of casework at the Fundraising Regulator, said in a blog today that naming all organisations would "promote and support a culture of ethical fundraising", increase transparency and bring the organisation into line with the Charity Commission's approach to investigations.

"Where a charity or third-party agency has breached the Code of Fundraising Practice, there is an opportunity for organisations to learn from the recommendations we have made," Orr added.

"We will state clearly where organisations have agreed to comply with our recommendations for improvement."

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