More sanctions in prospect for street fundraisers

PFRA intends to give penalty points for poor practice

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is planning to adopt a 'penalty points' system that would allow it to impose fines and other sanctions on charities and fundraising agencies that broke its rules on face-to-face fundraising.

The new system would permit the PFRA to issue points to charities and agencies for minor breaches such as failing to use sites that had been allocated to them or using the wrong site, and for more serious mistakes such as losing donors' data.

The system would also be used to penalise practices that breached the Institute of Fundraising's code of conduct. Once an organisation received a set number of points, it could be asked to pay a fine or retrain its face-to-face fundraisers.

Mick Aldridge, chief executive of the PFRA, said it was conceivable that complaints from the public could also lead to penalty points being issued, but there would be safeguards against "vexatious complainants".

He said: "Our regulatory function in the past has been based on access to sites, and this is not a sufficiently sophisticated tool.

"More and more people are entering the field of face-to-face fundraising, so there is a greater potential for mistakes. We can't take a one-size-fits-all approach to these mistakes."

Aldridge said the idea was not a response to an increase in bad practice among face-to-face fundraisers.

The PFRA's board has discussed the penalty points system and the association's 136 members are expected to be consulted about it this summer. Aldridge said he did not anticipate a lot of opposition.

Alistair McLean, chief executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, said he would support any move by the PFRA to improve standards. "This should act as an additional component of the FRSB's role in dealing with public complaints about face-to-face fundraising," he said.

Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, said: "We're concerned with exposing bad practice and enhancing best practice, as we did with our direct mail campaign last year, so we would welcome this.

"We would want to be involved in the consultation about how it would work in practice."


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