Clothing collection bags may not be the most glamorous end of the charity market but despite the fact that they bring in millions of pounds a year to good causes and Royal Mail there is no sanction for delivering bags to consumers who have specifically requested not to receive them.
That is according to the final ruling of the now defunct Fundraising Standards Board, which has admitted it can take no action against the Salvation Army’s trading arm – or Royal Mail door-to-door – despite the fact that a bag was delivered to one household displaying signage that requested no unsolicited marketing materials.
The FRSB’s replacement, the Fundraising Regulator, is now looking into why collection bags are not included in the Code of Fundraising Practice.
The complainant originally contacted the Salvation Army Trading Company in December last year to object to receiving a collection bag, despite a ‘cease and desist’ notice displayed on the complainant’s door requesting no unsolicited marketing materials.
During the adjudication, the FRSB insisted that the Salvation Army had been respectful in its approach to the public and had made reasonable efforts to ensure that Royal Mail was complying with the Code.
The trading company had specifically requested that Royal Mail and its distributors should not deliver to addresses displaying ‘No junk mail’ signage.
The charity was found to have dealt with the complaint itself in a respectful and thorough manner, also having removed the household’s postcode from all future distribution lists to ensure that the complainant received no further charity collection bags.
However, the FRSB criticised the charity for not including a stipulation within its terms of agreement with Royal Mail that its distributors would not approach households displaying such signage.
Since the complaint was raised, the Salvation Army has advised Royal Mail that they cannot work together on future collection activities unless the postal company confirms that it will not deliver to households displaying a sign requesting no unsolicited mail or materials. The contract is sizeable; the charity delivers over 400,000 clothing collection bags to homes across the UK each week.
The adjudication report has now been passed to the Fundraising Regulator, which took on regulatory responsibility for charity fundraising and ownership of the Code in July 2016.
Commenting on the adjudication, Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “The FRSB’s final adjudication again shows how essential it is for charities and their partners to respect the wishes of households that do not want to receive marketing, particularly where a sign has been put up to make this plain. In light of the findings of this adjudication, the Fundraising Regulator will now consider whether the Code needs to be amended.
“The complainant has raised additional concerns with the FRSB about other organisations. As the Fundraising Regulator, we will be writing to those organisations in order to bring to their attention the wish of the complainant to receive no further collection bags and to ensure that those wishes are respected.”
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