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BBC Newsnight 'exposé' to say charities spend millions on face-to-face

BBC Newsnight 'exposé' to say charities spend millions on face-to-face
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BBC Newsnight 'exposé' to say charities spend millions on face-to-face

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 26 Aug 2010

The BBC’s current affairs programme Newsnight will tonight run a story about face-to-face fundraising in which it will report that donations acquired via by the technique are often wiped out by agency fees.

In a taster for the tenor of the programme, the BBC website has run a story today in which it can take more than a year for the donation made by a donor recruited either on the street or door by an agency to cover the cost of their recruitment. Fundraising understands that the break-even point for face-to-face recruited donors regularly exceeds this time frame, as it does for a number of other regular-giving fundraising methods.

Public Fundraising Regulatory Association chief executive Mick Aldridge has been interviewed for the programme, and the PFRA referred to as the “companies’ watchdog”. It is understood that Newsnight will feature a head-to-head between charities opposed to and in favour of face-to-face fundraising.

Chugger pay newspaper expose

The Newsnight programme, which will air at 10:30pm on BBC2, comes after this morning’s Daily Mirror investigation into Cobra, which runs fundraising company Appco – known to the sector as Support Direct.

Appco representatives chose not to offer a response to the allegations made by the Mirror that fundraisers used by the company can earn below the minimum wage due the employment structure in which the fundraisers are contracted as self-employed individuals.

A number of large charities, including WSPA, Plan and the RSPCA use Appco as part of their face-to-face fundraising programme.

Mark Astarita, director of fundraising at the British Red Cross - which uses the agency, said the charity is committed to using face-to-face fundraising as a lucrative source of revenue. “We have been working with Cobra for a number of years and they have assured us, and publicly confirmed, that they comply with the relevant laws and codes of practice in the UK.

"If the British Red Cross were to learn of any evidence that this was not the case we would take the matter extremely seriously and investigate with all due haste and diligence.”

A spokeswoman for NDCS, also a Cobra client, said that it complies with all codes of practice and insists its suppliers do the same. “If anyone feels that one of the Codes of Practice has been broken, they should lodge a complaint with the Fundraising Standards Board,” she said.

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