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NSPCC and Clothes Aid: September 2019

Name and type of organisation/s: NSPCC, a children’s charity and Clothes Aid, its agency

Fundraising method: charity bags

Code themes examined: complaints handling processes, unreasonably intrusive fundraising and third party monitoring 

Code breach?

  • NSPCC: No
  • Clothes Aid: Yes 

The complaint 

The complainant contacted us after a charity bag was delivered to their property. The complainant said that the charity bag was delivered despite a previous request to Clothes Aid (the agency) and the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC - the charity), which led to a commitment that the complainant’s address had been removed from the delivery route.  

What happened? 

When the complainant contacted the charity and the agency in 2015 their address was added to a ‘no post’ list. Shortly after making their initial request, the complainant received a further charity bag from Clothes Aid on behalf of NSPCC and then again in February 2019.  

We reviewed the agency’s investigation into the complainant’s concerns and its distributor training, as well as the processes it has in place to prevent such complaints. The agency told us that its investigation revealed that a charity bag was delivered to the complainant’s property in February 2019 as a result of human error.  It told us that the distributor delivered the charity bag despite receiving training on not delivering to properties marked on the agency’s ‘no post’ list, and signing to say that they were aware that the complainant’s address was not to be visited.    

We reviewed the charity’s investigation into the complaint, as well as the arrangements to monitor the agency that it had in place at the time of the complaint. These arrangements included requirements on the agency to comply with the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code), charity input into staff training, and regular scheduled meetings to discuss complaints. NSPCC told us that as a result of its quality monitoring it had decided to terminate its contract with Clothes Aid. 

Our decision  

We found that a further charity bag was delivered by Clothes Aid, despite the measures to prevent a reoccurrence. Therefore, we considered that Clothes Aid breached the requirements in the code to fundraise in a way which is respectful, and engaged in unreasonably intrusive fundraising. 

We found that both NSPCC and Clothes Aid promptly and thoroughly investigated the concerns and responded appropriately to the complainant.  

We found that the complainant receiving a charity bag in February 2019 was not the result of a failure by the charity to properly monitor its agency. We consider that the charity undertook all reasonable steps to monitor its agency and therefore did not breach the code.

Recommendations 

We were encouraged to note that Clothes Aid has already undertaken a review of its high risk ‘no post’ addresses and updated its operating procedures to highlight the importance of respecting the householder’s wishes. Clothes Aid also told us that its ‘no post’ list process is under constant review. 

We asked that Clothes Aid write to us within one month of our final decision to outline the ongoing review work it is undertaking along with any additional actions it has taken in response to this complaint.  

Outcome 

We asked that Clothes Aid write to us within one month of our final decision to outline the ongoing review work they are undertaking along with any additional actions they had taken in response to this complaint. 

Clothes Aid confirmed that it accepts our recommendation and findings.