Skip to main content

NSPCC and Clothes Aid: September 2019

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

Fundraising method: charity bags

Code themes examined: complaints handling processes, unreasonably intrusive fundraising, charity clothing collection bags and third-party monitoring 

Code breach?

  • NSPCC: No
  • Clothes Aid: Yes 

The complaint 

The complainant contacted us after receiving two charity bags on behalf of the charity within six weeks. The complainant said that the charity bag was delivered despite their ‘no charity bag’ sign and previous assurances from the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC - the charity) that their address had been added to Clothes Aid’s (the agency’s) ‘no post’ list. 

What happened?  

When we contacted the charity on the complainant’s behalf, the charity responded directly to the complainant and told them that it was sorry that a charity bag had been delivered as the result of human error. The charity said it had spoken to its agency and to prevent the error occurring again the agency had added the complainant’s address to its ‘no post’ list. A few weeks later, the complainant contacted the charity again as they had received a further charity bag on the charity’s behalf. 

The agency told us that the distributor delivered the charity bag despite having received training on not delivering to restricted addresses and receiving a warning not to deliver to the complainant’s address. We have seen that as the result of its investigation, the distributor responsible was dismissed.

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

Our Decision

Despite the complainant’s ‘no charity bag’ sign and their address being on the ‘no post’ list Clothes Aid delivered a further charity bag, which breached the section of the code that prohibits such activity. We also found that in continuing to deliver against the complainant’s wishes, the agency breached the requirement in the code to fundraise in a way that is respectful and not unreasonably persistent. 

We found that both NSPCC and Clothes Aid promptly and thoroughly investigated the concerns raised, considered the learning from their investigation and then took decisive action. On this basis we do not consider that either party breached the section of the code that relates to complaint handling. 

However, we found that Clothes Aid did not have a robust system in place to document its investigation findings or for presenting these findings to its charity partners. 

We found that the complainant receiving the final charity bag was not the result of a failure by the charity to properly monitor its agency. Therefore, NSPCC did not breach the section of the code that relates to monitoring of third parties. 

Recommendations 

We recommended that Clothes Aid review the effectiveness of its staff training and sanctions with regards to adherence to ‘no charity bags’ signs.  

We recommended that Clothes Aid implements a way of recording the outcome of investigations and a formal process by which it provides this to its charity partners. 

Outcome 

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