Daily Mail criticises charities over street fundraising

11 Jun 2018 News

The Daily Mail has attacked charities for paying face-to-face fundraising firms to sign up regular givers.

But charities have pushed back against the paper, saying that face-to-face fundraising is a well understood and effective mechanism to recruit donors, and that it is necessary to pay fundraisers for the work they do.

In an article, How the first YEAR of your charity donation ends up in the hands of the chuggers, published on Saturday, the paper highlighted four charities and four agencies involved in street fundraising. 

It calculated that it takes on average between 12 and 27 months for charities to start to make money from a new donor. 

The Mail said its reporters signed up to donated to charities using third party fundraisers after a whistleblower alerted it to concerns.

“When reporters agreed to donate, they were told that all their money would go to the good cause. They were only told about the up front fees at the very end of the transaction, just before a signature was required,” the Mail said.

Using the figures for how much charities have paid fundraising agencies and how much the charity hopes to raise, the Mail has calculated that the average time it takes “before the charity makes any money”. 

It highlighted that: 

  • Unicef waits an average of 12 months for a campaign with One Sixty Fundraising 
  • Plan International UK waits an average of 27 months for a campaign with One Sixty Fundraising 
  • Barnardo’s waits an average of 20 months for a campaign with Real Fundraising 
  • Barnardo’s waits an average of 21 months for a campaign with UrbanLeaf Ltd
  • Scope waits an average of 12 months for a campaign with Ergon Business 

Charities respond 

The Mail has quoted Danielle Atkinson, head of individual giving at Plan International UK, as saying: “Raising funds costs money. Using agencies is an established way to do so efficiently, as we can control exactly how much we spend.” 

Atkinson elaborated on Twitter to say that “we work with the best to get the quality & assurance we - and our donors – demand”. 

A spokesman from Unicef was quoted as saying that: “We constantly monitor and tweak our campaigns to make sure we are predicting how much they are going to raise as accurately as possible and to keep the costs of raising that money as low as possible. If working with fundraising companies like One Sixty became too expensive, we would stop using them.”

The Mail also quoted spokespeople from two of the agencies saying that they were operating in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice. 

Civil Society News has contacted all the organisations named in the piece. 

One agency, Real Fundraising, declined to send Civil Society News its statement without a guarantee that it would “be used in full and without edit” because the statement it sent the Mail was “edited and chopped”. 

Scope’s statement was not quoted from by the Mail, but its head of individual giving, Joe Doyle said: “We’re committed to ensuring that every penny we raise is spent in the most effective way, and as much as possible goes to the front line services we run to support disabled people and their families.
 
“We work with third-party agencies to enable us to reach the greatest number of people, talk about our work and help us raise the funds we need to support our work.
 
“When working with these agencies we set the highest possible standards.” 

He highlighted that this includes mystery shopping, visiting agencies and welcoming new donors with a phone call to check that they were happy with their experience. 

Reaction on Twitter 

Other sector figures reacted to the piece on Twitter. 

Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering, said the fact that charities use paid fundraisers is still an “uncomfortable truth”. But he urged charities not to be complacent and to “continue to be open and upfront about the reality that it costs money to raise money”. 

Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and research at the Institute of Fundraising said “without spending money on fundraising charities can’t exist”. 

 

He also suggested the Mail reflect on its own practices. 

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