That is the damning verdict of industry regulator the Fundraising Standards Board, following an investigation sparked by an undercover report in the Sunday Telegraph on face-to-face specialist Tag Campaigns.
The FRSB launched its investigation on the back of the report, which included video footage taken by the newspaper that showed numerous examples of poor practice. These included one fundraiser who said they deliberately tried to confuse potential donors, as well as trainers telling new staff not to take no for an answer.
Having considered the allegations, the FRSB believed it was likely that the code breaches were not only due to the actions of a few individual fundraisers, “but the consequence of significant failures at Tag”.
The FRSB found four areas in which the official code had been breached, including a failure to carry out adequate background checks on fundraisers and a lack of training on how members of the public were told of the agency’s fees.
The regulator has passed its findings to the Charity Commission because it is a breach of charity law for fundraisers to fail to make a disclosure to people signing up to a direct debit.
Chair of the FRSB Colin Lloyd – the former DMA president – branded the standard of Tag’s fundraising “unacceptable”.
He added: “The IoF’s code sets out clear guidance about what can and cannot be done when fundraising on Britain’s streets. It is essential that all fundraisers understand and actively apply this knowledge or risk damaging the reputation of the organisations they are raising money for.”
Marie Curie director of fundraising Fabian French said: “With the benefit of hindsight, we accept that we should have monitored Tag’s activities more fully.”
A spokesman for Tag said it had accepted straight away that the Sunday Telegraph had identified shortcomings and taken immediate action to put them right. He added that Tag would cooperate with any inquiry by the Charity Commission into the finding that it breached charity law.
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