Name and type of organisation: Asian Foundation for Help (registered charity no. 289648)
Fundraising method: Collection (Public/other)
Code themes examined: Vulnerable donor
Code breach? Yes
The complainant was unhappy that a trustee of the charity visited their home to collect a cheque from an elderly relative, whom they consider to be vulnerable. The complainant was also unhappy the charity had made the visit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The elderly relative was a long-term supporter of the charity and they wanted to donate to it via cheque. They called the charity to arrange collection of the cheque, however this request was not actioned immediately. Meanwhile, the complainant spoke to the charity to explain that their relative was suffering from poor health and they considered them to be vulnerable.
Months later, a trustee of the charity went to collect the cheque from the home the elderly relative shares with the complainant. When the complainant answered the door, they explained again to the trustee that the donor was in poor health and considered to be vulnerable. They also explained that the elderly relative had been advised to shield because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was a heated exchange between the trustee and the complainant. However, the trustee still entered the property to collect the cheque.
When the complainant took their complaint to the charity, the charity maintained it had not done anything wrong by collecting the cheque. It also made disparaging remarks about the complainant. This ultimately resulted in the charity refunding the donation.
Our investigation concluded that by failing to reconsider whether it was appropriate to collect the cheque, after being informed of the elderly relative’s poor health, the trustee failed to consider the needs of a vulnerable donor.
We found that the charity’s investigation into the complaint showed a lack of empathy for the complainant and the elderly relative. We also found the charity showed an unwillingness to listen to the complainant’s experience. This led to a protracted complaints process, which caused unnecessary stress to the complainant and their relative.
The charity told us during our investigation that it was introducing guidelines for its trustees and volunteers with regards to dealing with vulnerable donors. We welcomed this proactive decision and suggested the charity refers to guidance provided by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.
We recommended the charity also take the learning from this investigation to improve its complaints handling.
The charity agreed to comply with our recommendations.