Following the Sunday Telegraph report on face-to-face fundraising company Tag Campaigns, Oxfam has confirmed that it has halted its £650,000 six-month contract with the company.
Tag came under scrutiny in a Sunday Telegraph report on 24 June which revealed through undercover reporting that the company was not following Fundraising Standards Board guidance or best practice in its training of Marie Curie fundraisers.
Last week Marie Curie advised it had halted use of Tag's service until it could conduct an investigation. The FRSB too launched an investigation. Now it has emerged that Oxfam has also halted its fundraising through the organisation just one week into its six-month contract with Tag.
A spokeswoman for Oxfam told civilsociety.co.uk that Oxfam had only just re-launched its face-to-face fundraising on 18 June after making a decision to cease the technique in 2008 as it wasn't, at that time, deemed cost-effective.
The decision to return efforts towards street fundraising, which she advised had always been undertaken with a non-financial request for details which was then followed up by telephone fundraisers, was taken this year, and a six-month pilot arranged with Tag:
"We know that SMS donations are being increasingly used by a younger generation of donors, so we wanted to test out this approach as it has proven difficult to attract this group through more traditional fundraising. Our expectation was that an initial donation via a mobile phone would be a better indication of someone’s potential interest in setting up a regular gift to Oxfam, rather than our old approach of asking for support for our campaigning. As before, the regular gift would be discussed via a follow-up phone call to the person.
"In these financially uncertain times we need more than one way of recruiting new regular donors, so that we don’t rely heavily on one or two routes of income. We already have a number of ways of doing this, but we were exploring another option through this street fundraising pilot.
"We were also aware that there is a much higher level of regulation of street fundraising in the sector compared with a few years ago, and that a scheme for financial penalties for breaches of the code is to be introduced shortly. This was an important factor for us, as it is crucial that the public has confidence in the fundraisers that are representing Oxfam," she said.
But, she advised, this pilot has now been halted and a decision of whether Oxfam will return to street fundraising will depend on the results of the FRSB investigation and internal discussions. "That is one of the things we will consider when we decide whether to go forward," she said.
Last week Tag, which is a part of the Gift Group, announced an overhaul of its training subsequent to the newspaper's investigation. More on this story can be found here.