After a 12 month trial, charities now face fines of £1,000 if their contracted street fundraisers, known as chuggers, breach new rules such as following a member of the public for more than three steps.
The new rules also require street fundraisers:
- not to stand within 3m of a shop doorway, cashpoint, pedestrian crossing or station entrance
- not to sign up anyone to a direct debit who, due to illness, disability, drugs or drink, is unable to give informed consent
- not to approach members of the public who are working, such as tour guides or newspaper vendors
Breaches of the rules will result in the charity accruing penalty points of up to 100 points for each transgression. Each charity has a “get-out-of-jail-free” threshold of 1,000 points before having to pay fines. Once this threshold is breached, charities must pay a monetary fine equal to £1 per point.
The rules will be enforced by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) (which is also currently responsible for enforcing good behaviour), by using spot checks and mystery shoppers. But the PFRA is recommending members of the public who observe the rules being broken should complain directly to the charities in the first instance and, if they are still not satisfied, to the Fundraising Standards Board.
All the money raised through the fines system will be used to improve compliance checks, in what the PFRA says creates a "virtuous circle".
Ian MacQuillin, PFRA head of communications, said, "The more people that break the rules, the more money we have for providing compliance officers to check street fundraisers are complying with the new regime".
Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the PFRA, said, "For a form of fundraising that is so regularly in the limelight, it is vitally important that fundraisers work to the highest possible standards in order to maintain the confidence of the public, media, and central and local government".
BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT
Aggressive, off-putting tactics from chuggers have been the bane of retailer’s lives for over a decade and they are hardly popular with the general public either. Although excellent in their intent, these new rules are laughable in their proposals for enforcement. The PFRA is funded by the charities that engage in face-to-face fundraising and their willingness to bite the hand that feeds them has yet to be tested. Even if they are willing, the thousands of chuggers operating in cities across the UK each day will far outnumber (and outwit) a handful of inspectors.
The worst part is the convoluted mechanism for members of the public to report a breach. Pity the poor shopkeeper who has a chugger outside their shop doorway [and unless they intend to operate in the middle of the road the 3 metre rule will mean many are in breach of this regulation] having to take the time to report this to the charity, wait for something to happen and then report it to the Fundraising Standards Board if nothing does.
The government has missed an opportunity to ban chuggers completely and promote alternatives like workplace giving or make it compulsory for them to be licensed by the local authority just like charities collecting cash donations on the street.
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