Name and type of organisation: LGB Alliance (registered charity no. 1194148)
Fundraising method: Social media
Code themes examined: Misleading information
Code breach? Yes
The complainant believed the charity’s fundraising was false and misleading, as it claimed it was the UK’s only registered charity set up to protect and promote the rights of people with lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) orientation.
The charity posted a fundraising Tweet which claimed it was the UK’s only registered charity set up to protect and promote the rights and interests of people with LGB orientation. The charity rejected this complaint on the basis that it was inaccurate and suggested the person who made the complaint was ignorant of how it differed from other charities. The charity also said that the complainant had not understood that LGB Alliance was set up because no other charity was supporting same sex attracted people.
The complainant was unhappy with the charity’s response and said that there are many other charities that provide a range of services and support to thousands of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Our findings are based solely on the standards imposed on organisations when fundraising, although we recognised the charity made the claim within the context of a wider ideological debate around sex and gender.
The Code of Fundraising Practice requires that fundraising materials must not mislead anyone, or be likely to mislead anyone, either by leaving out information or by being inaccurate or ambiguous or by exaggerating details. The code also requires that before a charity makes a direct or implied claim in its fundraising which is likely to be taken literally, it must make sure that there is evidence to prove the claim.
The charity has acknowledged that its Tweet could have been clearer and will provide more clarity in the future. However, we found that the Tweet posted by the charity breached the code because it was misleading, and the charity was unable to provide evidence to prove its claim. We also found the charity breached the code with regards to its complaints handling, because its initial response failed to properly engage with the issues raised.
We recommend that the charity:
- carefully considers the wording it uses when fundraising so that it presents sufficient information for donors to understand the charity’s position;
- ensures there is evidence to support any claims it makes when fundraising;
- considers how it can ensure the learning from this case is shared internally; and
- considers using a third party to help resolve future complaints of a contentious nature.
The charity has accepted our findings and recommendations. The charity has also offered to provide an apology to the complainant.