PFRA: Fundraising at ‘no cold calling’ homes is illegal

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association yesterday warned face-to-face fundraisers that it is illegal to knock on doors with ‘no cold calling’ stickers displayed, refuting argument from some fundraisers that charities are exempt from this regulation.

Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the PFRA, said that while complaints are increasing, there is no “tipping point of terror” for doorstep face-to-face fundraising in terms of reputation or regulation, however there is likely to be increased media attention on the technique. She noted that the Office for Civil Society has already identified that complaints about doorstep far outnumber those about street.

“We are dealing with indicators that suggest future unrest,” she told the Institute of Fundraising’s face-to-face conference in London yesterday.

Coinciding with the announcement of the implementation of a new regime for monitoring doorstep practice, de la Bedoyere said that charities and agencies should not be knocking on households which have ‘no cold calling’ stickers visible.

“Consumer protection means it’s illegal for fundraisers to call on doors with ‘no cold calling’ stickers,” said de la Bedoyere. “It’s an issue that’s been ignored for some time.”

However, this assertion drew some objection from the crowd, including representatives from Home Fundraising who said their own legal advice was to the contrary; that charities were considered exempt from these stickers.

A fundraiser from the Children’s Trust also expressed concern about the cost involved in adhering to this rule, and that individual charities would lose competitive advantage unless the whole sector agreed not to solicit from ‘no cold calling’ properties.

But de la Bedoyere remained firm on the PFRA position. “My advice is not to die in the ditch for the right to knock on every door in the country,” she said.

Door-to-door fundraising regulatory gap

De la Bedoyere went on to say that the lack of information about the amount of doorstep fundraising being practised by charities was “terrifying”.

“We don’t really know how much is going on. What are the hotspots?” she asked. “Not having that knowledge makes us very vulnerable.”

She said that some councils, feeling impotent, are looking to regulate doorstep fundraising and that without proactive measures from fundraising charities the “regulatory gap could come back to bite us”.

The PFRA, she said, is in a unique position to be able to regulate doorstep activity due to its close relationship with many local authorities. De la Bedoyere said that the PFRA could establish an online roster for door-to-door fundraising in particular areas, much in the same way it operates one for street fundraising.

This article was taken from Civil Society: http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/fundraising/news/content/16160/