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Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK and Fundraising Support Ltd: June 2020

Name and type of organisation/s: Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK (registered charity no. 1161622) and Fundraising Support Ltd, an agency

Fundraising method: Charity bags

Code themes examined: the delivery of a charity bag to a ‘restricted address’, complaint handling and third-party organisations 

Code breach?

  • Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK? Yes
  • Fundraising Support Ltd? Yes

The complaint

The complainant contacted Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK (the charity) to request that charity bags not be delivered to their address. Despite this, a further charity bag was delivered.

What happened?

The charity said that the complainant’s address had been added to its list of addresses not to deliver to in April 2019. However, the charity’s agency, Fundraising Support Ltd (the agency), delivered a further charity bag to the complainant in June 2019.

The agency said that the complainant’s front door and window did not have a sign showing that they did not want to receive charity bags, nor did their property have a clear house number. The agency questioned how its staff could know that the resident did not want to receive charity bags and said that, even if the resident asked not to receive charity bags, they could change their mind or may have moved house. The agency also said that the lack of door number could cause confusion. The agency believed that the complaint was not “valid”.

The charity required the agency to abide by the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code). However, although the charity said it had systems in place to record “banned addresses” and that it monitors the training the agency provide to its distributors, the training did not refer to banned addresses. As the charity appeared to accept the agency’s response to the complaint that it was not valid, it was unclear how the charity could satisfy itself that the agency was complying with the code. In addition, apart from shadowing distributors, the charity did not provide information about how it monitors the work the agency undertakes on its behalf.

Our decision

The charity provided a prompt and detailed response addressing the complainant’s concerns. The charity also promptly investigated the complaint through its agency. Therefore, we found that the charity had not breached the section of the code about handling and investigating complaints. However, we found that the charity breached the section of the code regarding monitoring third parties.

We found that by delivering a charity bag to the complainant, the agency engaged in fundraising that was unreasonably intrusive, which is in breach of the code. We also had serious concerns that the agency did not consider the complaint to be valid and thought it acceptable to deliver charity bags to properties on its banned address list. Therefore, we found that the agency was not learning from complaints, so was in breach of the code.

Recommendations

Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK

We recommended that the charity puts in place quality monitoring measures to check the work the agency undertakes on its behalf. Specifically, that it:

  • reviews the compliance training materials of any third-party fundraising agency and continues to monitor that training; and
  • puts in place ongoing processes and procedures to monitor the work of third-party fundraising agencies in order to reassure itself that work being undertaken on its behalf is being delivered effectively in practice.

Fundraising Support Ltd

We recommended that the agency:

  • review its present system for identifying and communicating banned addresses to its delivery staff to identify whether the risk of further errors can be reduced; and
  • review the learning from this complaint and in doing so it should review how it assesses whether or not a complaint is valid.

Outcome

We ask that the charity and agency write to us within one month of our final decision to provide us with an update on the action taken in response to our recommendations.