The bosses of four of the UK’s leading charities have claimed their own marketing agencies are to blame for the uproar over aggressive fundraising practices, maintaining they were as shocked as anyone about the level of abuse.
Chief executives Mark Goldring of Oxfam, Peter Wanless of the NSPCC, Justin Forsyth of Save the Children and David Canavan of the RSPCA made their extraordinary claims while being grilled by a Parliamentary committee of MPs, which has been charged with trying to get to the bottom of the issue.
When asked by Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman, Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, how poor fundraising practice had gone unnoticed, Oxfam’s Goldring suggested that charities had relied too heavily on agencies which had received virtually no supervision.
The NSPCC’s Wanless admitted that charities had failed to translate their values into their agency contracts, while Forsyth maintained most charities had themselves been outraged to learn about what was going on.
Ramping up the pressure, Labour MP for Vauxhall Kate Hoey asked whether any of the bosses had considered resigning over the scandal, to which she was met with a resounding “no”.
And while Save the Children has pulled out of cold calling all together, the RSPCA and NSPCC admitted they were both still working with telemarketing agency Listen, whose practices were exposed in a recent media investigation.
The move coincides with claims that the decision to scrap the Fundraising Standards Board – revealed earlier this week – has taken even some industry officials by the surprise.
The chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s data task group – Dawn Varley, who is also a member of its standards committee – is understood to have resigned from her role just days before she was due to present the findings of her report into data malpractice.
Varley, who works at database consultancy Purple Vision, has declined to comment on her decision, but she had tweeted on Sunday: “You learn a lot by reading the papers sometimes.”
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