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News - 3 April 2008

Chuggers given guidelines to follow (or not?)

The Government's Office of the Third Sector has published guidelines for face-to-face fundraisers to help them abide by the rules of the new Charities Act, which came into force on 1 April. The guidance specifically addresses the issue of solicitation statements including what chuggers should say to the public when they stop them in the street.

Chuggers are required by the Act to disclose that they are working for a third party agency, that they are being paid to collect subscriptions and to state the proportion of the donation that will go to the charity.

The guidance document is some 50 pages in length and offers examples or scenarios of how the information might be presented to potential donors.

Charities are beginning to worry that their income may suffer as a result of such disclosures. This is not surprising given that in some cases the money reaching the charity can be as little as 10% of the donation in the first year and people have been hitherto unaware of this.

However, enforcement of these regulations has never been clear or effective and has yet to be defined for the future. So are the new guidelines likely to change anything?

BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT

There has always been a voluntary code of practice requiring chuggers to disclose this kind of information and more. In a survey conducted in Brighton in 2006 only 11% of people who had been approached by chuggers had been told by the agent that they were being paid.

The new Charities Act makes the regulations legally binding but in the absence of enforcement it is hard to see how the publication of guidelines on solicitation statements will make much difference.

Unless these rules and guidelines are enforced. chuggers may not abide by them and the evidence from their own voluntary code isn't encouraging.

The chuggers have been given guidelines to follow or not and some will and some won't. That is much the same as the situation we already have. 


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