Scheme to tackle street clashes

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) has launched a scheme to ensure that rival teams of face-to-face fundraisers don't clash in the same sites.

The self-regulatory organisation, whose 100 members represent 90 per cent of charities that use face-to-face fundraising, will be liaising with local authorities, town centre managers, charities and fundraising agencies to establish a street allocation system. A database will be created to co-ordinate fundraising sites and the organisations that use them. Face-to-face fundraising attracts around 500,000 donors each year.

The PFRA, which was established in January 2001, aims to have the first scheme up and running in the South East by October, and across the UK by 2004.

PFRA's chairman Joel Voysey, who took up the post last month, said that the scheme would help alleviate the problem on the streets. "We are not into saturation and mobbing people on the street but we want to give people the opportunity to donate to charity," he said. "Face-to-face fundraising is getting to a whole new market of people who are engaging with charity for the first time."

Anne Bolitho, deputy director of fundraising at the National Deaf Children's Society, said: "We don't want to saturate the market - it would affect us all in the long term. Once the allocation system is up and running, clashes will be a thing of the past and the sites will be rested appropriately."

Voysey, who is also supporter recruitment manager at Amnesty International UK, hopes that the meetings with local authorities will persuade those that don't allow face-to-face fundraising to be more accommodating.

At present, while most authorities allow street fundraising, some cite the 1916 Police Act, which was originally designed to prevent former soldiers from begging on the streets.

The Performance and Innovation Unit's forthcoming report on the voluntary sector is expected to contain recommendations for updating this law.

The PFRA is funded by a ?xA3;100 membership fee, plus a levy on each new donor, but the new scheme may require further financial backing. Voysey said that there were many options open to the PFRA, which could include grants from trusts.

During his tenure as chairman, Voysey also hopes to examine the potential for introducing vocational training and qualifications for face-to-face fundraisers. Each one should abide by the rules laid down in the 2000 PFRA code of practice.

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