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National Deaf Children’s Society and Personal Fundraising Services: September 2019

Name and type of organisation/s: National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), a disability charity, and Personal Fundraising Services (PFS), a fundraising agency

Fundraising method and theme: face-to-face fundraising

Code themes examined: complaints handling processes and fundraiser behaviour

Code breach?

  • NDCS: No
  • PFS: Yes

The complaint

The complainant contacted us to raise concerns about the conduct of Personal Fundraising Services (PFS – the agency) fundraisers working on behalf of National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS – the charity). He said that on multiple occasions the fundraisers followed him and would not take no for an answer. He also raised concerns about some fundraisers not displaying identification. The complainant told us that on one occasion he saw a fundraiser attempt to stop another member of the public by placing their hand on their arm.

What happened?

The charity, through the agency, investigated the complaint and as a direct result of the feedback received, informed its fundraisers that the behaviour referred to in the complaint was not acceptable. It retrained the fundraising team on how to approach members of the public, reminded them that their ID must always be visible, and that the only time it is acceptable to touch members of the public is when shaking their hand by way of introduction or thank you. The charity said that it will now provide all their fundraisers with refresher training every 4-5 weeks.

The charity told us that it has started a full review of complaint management processes between it and the agency to identify areas where they can reduce instances of poor behaviour that have resulted in complaints. In addition, PFS are looking at new ways to improve training with its fundraisers to help ensure quality behaviours are kept front of mind.

Our decision

We found that the charity properly investigated and responded to this complaint. We also found that the charity do properly monitor its third-party fundraiser. We found that both organisations have taken learning from the complaints received.

However, we found that the agency was in breach of the code in relation to placing undue pressure on donors as its fundraisers were unreasonably persistent. We also found that the agency’s fundraisers had breached the code by not displaying their identification.

Recommendations

The charity and the agency are already taking steps to ensure their compliance with the code by reviewing their complaint handling/recording and the training provided to fundraisers.

We recommended that NDCS provide us with the outcome of its review of the complaint management processes between NDCS and PFS once completed.

We recommended that both organisations work together to record more detail regarding the substance of complaints so they can better identify trends and themes in fundraiser behaviour, and to consider whether there is a systemic issue in how their teams approach members of the public.

Outcome

We asked that both organisations write to us within two months of our final decision to outline the actions they have taken in response to our findings and recommendations. Both organisations confirmed that they accepted our findings and recommendations.