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Street fundraising standards have fallen, says PFRA

Street fundraising standards have fallen, says PFRA
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Street fundraising standards have fallen, says PFRA2

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 20 Jun 2012

The quality of street face-to-face fundraising has decreased over the past few years, according to the monitoring records compiled by the PFRA.

At the annual general meeting of the regulatory body yesterday afternoon, Nick Henry, head of standards and allocations, noted that the monthly scores obtained by mystery shopping street fundraising teams have been dropping since January 2009.

And the numbers of donors who sign up but never make a payment has increased too.

Research presented by the PFRA at the AGM showed that the average monthly scores have fallen from above 94 per cent to 89 per cent. In his submission to the PFRA annual report, Henry wrote that the organisation expects fundraisers to get scores of 90 per cent.

Asked whether he really thought the quality of street fundraising was in decline, Henry replied: “Honestly? Yeah.

“There is a clear downward trend in street fundraising quality control.”

This downward trend is set against a spectacular increase in street fundraising donor sign-ups, as reported in the PFRA annual report released yesterday, which were up nearly 40 per cent last year.

Henry attributed the decline to the fact that street fundraising “has got harder”. He said that increased difficulty in recruiting donors, as well as increased demand by charities to engage in street fundraising and the fact that it is difficult to recruit and retain good quality street fundraising staff, meant that standards were under pressure.

“I’m going to have to arrest that,” he said.

In his report, Henry wrote: “Clearly this is something that concerns us and our new strategy and business plan have proposed several measures aimed at addressing this issue.”

Figures show a slight improvement over the past 12 months.

He dismissed suggestions that the decline was a result of changes to the way that quality levels are assessed, but remarked there was often a difference in fundraising quality between sites.

No-show rate increases

Presenting the annual Donor Acquisition and Retention Survey (DARS), Future Fundraising’s Rupert Tappin and Morag Fleming revealed a second concerning trend for both street and door fundraising, for the calendar year 2010.

The annual survey found a marked spike in the number of donors who sign up with a fundraiser either on the street or doorstep, but fail to make any payment, known as ‘no-shows’.

“The no-show rate has gone up considerably,” said Fleming.

The rate of no-shows for street fundraising in 2010 stood at nearly 30 per cent and just over 20 per cent for doorstep-recruited donors.

Thirty charities reported their data into the DARS report, which represents just over a quarter of the PFRA membership and less than half of all members which ran face-to-face campaigns in 2010. 

Iommi34
Advisor
Private
25 Aug 2012

The problem is, is that the PFRA simply just aren't up to the job.

I was involved in an incident last year with a well known environmental charity which - to my understanding - involved several breaches of the fundraising code. The PFRA were no help at all. I have e-mails from this organisation which admit that they failed to notify the me about the PFRA complaints process and the Fundraising Standards Board at the "start of the process" because "it did not occur" to them. I was advised penalties were not imposed if the complainant was a member of the public because it was their considered opinion that face to face fundraising attracts a high proportion of "vexatious" complaints. I was also advised that the results of mystery shopping exercises (and presumably breaches of the code) are not in the public domain as it hadn’t occurred to the PFRA that anyone would be interested.

So there we have it. An organization that only recently could not issue a copy of it's own process to a complainant, considers public complaints to be "vexatious" and didn't consider the results of mystery shopping exercises (and presumably breaches of the code) important enough to be in the public domain. It took a government review and national media expose for the charity sector to wake up and start addressing what the public has been telling them for years.

At the end of the day the faults and problems with chugging have been visible for years and the PFRA has failed because it didn't take it's responsibilities seriously enough. Its exclusion from the recent Institute of Fundraising is a damning indictment of an organisation that has failed to represent and address the legitimate concerns of members of the public.

John Marshall
CEO
Centrepoint Outreach
21 Jun 2012

"And the numbers of donors who sign up but never make a payment has increased too".
I am regularly accosted in the town precinct by some young person who expects me to make an on the spot decision to support their appeal and give personal information to a stranger in the street! Why would I ever be prepared to do such a thing? It happens so frequently that it is a real nuisance. I suspect that some of those who sign up - are being pressured and sign up to get away! On reflection they perhaps realise that their contributions will not necessarily benefit the designated charity for a long period! The collector of their signature and organisation - has to be paid first!
People are fed up with being stopped - in the same manner as a Time Share Tout or their evening meal interrupted by a door knock for yet another charity donation request!

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