Update on our market inquiry into the use of subcontracting in face-to-face fundraising

By Jim Tebbett, Head of Proactive Regulation and Projects at the Fundraising Regulator

In May 2023, I joined the Fundraising Regulator as its first Head of Proactive Regulation and Projects. Since then, I have been looking at how to improve intelligence gathering and ensure we are working with others in the most effective way.  

Last summer, we identified a pattern of complaints, self-reports and press interest into poor door-to-door fundraising practice by subcontracted agencies. Our response was to announce our first market inquiry into the use of subcontracting in face-to-face fundraising. Separate and independent to the market inquiry, our Casework team opened an investigation into the specific charities and agencies highlighted in the press and self-reports, which is ongoing. 

We followed desk research and engagement with charity regulators and sector bodies with a series of five fact-finding workshops with senior representatives from charity fundraising teams, charity compliance teams and agencies. Three workshops were online, and two were hosted by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.  

The workshops were very well attended and full of thoughtful discussion and questions. We shared insights into the background and context of the issue, and discussed best practice and challenges when carrying out face-to-face fundraising. This included deeper dives into contracts and due diligence, planning campaigns and training, and the monitoring and oversight of face-to-face fundraisers. 

There were 78 participants across the workshops from 36 charities and 18 agencies. Our feedback was positive: 

  • 26 respondents (93%) said their workshop was somewhat or extremely useful (none said they were not useful). 

  • 17 respondents (61%) said the workshops were too short, 11 (39%) said the length was just right, and none said they were too long - we will certainly take this on board! 

  • 100% of respondents said they would come to a similar workshop in future. 

Workshop participants shared many examples of good practice and a widespread willingness to do the right thing. However, we also heard examples of where both charities and agencies need to tighten their contracts and focus more on due diligence and contract management.  

Next month we will publish a post-workshop report, which will summarise the workshop discussions and outline next steps - so watch this space!