Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity has said it will resume telephone fundraising with NTT after an investigation found “no systemic failures” at the agency, which was subject to a probe by Channel 4’s Dispatches that made allegations of poor practice.
The charity (Gosh) said it stopped working with NTT Fundraising and commissioned an independent investigation when it was made aware of the Dispatches report, which was broadcast on 11 August and suggested telephone agencies were breaching fundraising self-regulation.
Alistair McLean, chief executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, said the regulator’s own investigation into the programme was ongoing. He welcomed the charity’s decision to join the FRSB and sign up to fundraising self-regulation.
Gosh said the programme uncovered “pockets of behaviour that did not meet our ethical standards” to treat potential donors with honesty, integrity and respect. But its investigation concluded that overall there was no evidence of working practices at NTT that would lead to breaches of legislation, sector standards or guidance.
The investigation was carried out by the charity's internal auditors, Grant Thornton, and made a series of recommendations that the charity and NTT have accepted.
These include: strengthening existing controls and monitoring of staff to reinforce a culture that treats potential donors fairly; ensuring clear policies are in place on the treatment of vulnerable people; reviewing how data is sourced to limit the risk of people receiving numerous telemarketing calls, and telling donors about the cost of the campaign before a donation is made.
The agency will also review factors that could influence the conduct of fundraisers including training, scripts or incentive schemes.
Dispatches raised concerns about telephone fundraisers’ approaches to vulnerable people and showed supervisors telling call centre staff it was okay to lie to potential donors about personal details.
In a statement, Gosh highlighted the importance of telephone fundraising and said: “We are pleased that the independent investigator found no systemic failures in NTT’s fundraising on our behalf, and no evidence of working practices that would lead to breaches of legislation, standards or guidance.”
The charity said it was confident of NTT’s commitment to its action plan and would be resuming telephone fundraising with the agency.
Gosh said it was contributing to the Institute of Fundraising’s review into the code of practice relating to vulnerable people.
The investigation included an on-site review of NTT processes and concluded on 18 September.