Lord Grade criticises fundraisers as 'rogues and cowboys'

12 Jun 2017 News

Lord Grade, chair of the Fundraising Regulator

Lord Grade of Yarmouth has criticised fundraisers as "rogues and cowboys", and singled out university fundraisers for having failed to engage with the new Fundraising Regulator, which he chairs, according to The Times.

As reported in The Times on Friday, Lord Grade said the launch of the Fundraising Preference Service this summer would put a stop to a minority of “rogues and cowboys working for third-party companies” threatening the reputation of the fundraising sector.

Grade also mentioned the cases of Olive Cooke and Samuel Rae - both elderly people who received an extremely high amount of direct mail from charities. He said their cases showed that “something was wrong” in the sector, and said the “idea of not doing anything - letting it be a Wild West of fundraising - is not tenable”.

“People don’t like being harassed. One of the techniques that people use on the phone is, ‘It’s very kind of you to donate £5 a month; could you make it £10?’ They try and get you into a negotiation. It’s horrible. You have been generous enough to donate once a year or monthly, whatever — go away, thank you, be grateful.”

Grade also said that, while many third-party fundraising agencies were “diligent”, he called some “rogues” and “cowboys”.

Grade ‘hinted’ many charities not paying levy are universities

In the interview, Grade also reportedly singled out universities as being a significant part of ‘a tail’ of charities which fall within the £100,000 a year spend on fundraising activities levy who have yet to contribute.

According to the article, “pressed several times to name some who had not paid” Grade reportedly said “academe” and “hinted” he was talking about “prominent universities, some of which raise millions a year from alumni”.

He also said that a number of organisations are “refusing on principle” to contribute to the levy, and that others “say if it’s voluntary, why should we pay?”

Big red button ‘not acceptable to a lot of donors’

Grade did however say that “a lot of donors” were opposed to the suggestion of a blanket ‘big red button’ ban option that was originally put forward as part of the FPS by a working group chaired by George Kidd, then chair of the Direct Marketing Commission.

“In our consultation a lot of people said, ‘I am very happy to hear from the lifeboats or the donkey sanctuary, whatever it is, I am very happy to give and I am happy to hear from them’,” Grade said.

“If we had done a blanket, what they called the “big red button”, that was not acceptable to a lot of donors. They just want to hear from the ones they want to hear from.”

The Fundraising Regulator is scheduled to launch the FPS this summer. 

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