From the LGA: Encouraging Numbers on ‘Chugger’ Complaints

The LGA have recently commented on findings that indicate joining a national voluntary agreement on public fundraising has dramatically decreased the number of complaints from local shoppers.

The figures speak for themselves and we would urge any councils who have not yet considered joining this scheme to consider it (or ask questions about it if in opposition).

LGA Press Release:

Complaints about street fundraisers, or chuggers, have fallen in council areas that are signed up to a national voluntary agreement to improve standards.

Last November, the Local Government Association launched the joint national agreement ‘Making the Pledge’, between councils and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PRFA), to tackle growing concerns about the behaviour of some face-to-face charity collectors.

A total of 74 local agreements, covering 110 towns and cities, are now in place regulating the number of fundraisers, the hours and days when fundraising can take place and action and sanctions if charities breach terms of their individual agreement.

An LGA survey analysing the success of the year-long scheme reveals that the new agreements are having a positive impact with complaints reduced in almost two thirds of the areas with them in place.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Street fundraising happens on a regular basis with 77 per cent of respondents stating it occurs on either a daily basis or weekly basis in their area.
  • 56 per cent of respondents said the number of street fundraisers operating was the top concern for local residents and businesses and with 54 per cent unhappy with the conduct and behaviour of fundraisers.
  • 72 per cent of areas with established agreements saw a reduction in the number of complaints following the adoption of the agreement.
  • 95 per cent of respondents felt the established agreements had been successful in their area and would recommend them to other local authorities.
  • 96 per cent of respondents who had reported complaints to the PFRA said they were satisfied with how they resolved the matter.

Cllr Mehboob Khan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“Charity donors recruited on the street give around £45 million a year for charity, but councils know that residents can feel pressured by the aggressive behaviour and sheer volume of some face-to-face fundraisers. This can put people off visiting high streets and result in a loss of trade for business.

“Councils have had limited opportunities to tackle these problems, so we set out to work with the PFRA to improve the standards of fundraising, enabling this valuable money to continue to be raised for charities while causing less of a local nuisance. It is encouraging that these agreements are already having a real impact within communities in reducing complaints.

“By working with charities, councils have been able to strike a sensible balance between charities’ need to ask people for support and the rights of local people not to be pressured to give. This allows local authorities to decide the fundraising conditions which suit the exact needs of their area and respond to the specific concerns of local communities.

“There is still work to be done to improve collections and reduce complaints further and that is why we are determined to increase the number of agreements in place.”

Sally de la Bedoyere, PRFA chief executive, said: “Our agreements with councils are proven to improve the professional standards of fundraisers and bring down the number of complaints going to local authorities.

“By partnering with the LGA, we have been able to take our message to more than councils than would otherwise have heard it, which is evidenced by the fact that a third of all the agreements with councils we have had come in the past year.”

NOTES 

  • The LGA’s Research and Information team conducted an online survey between 18 October and 8 November 2013 with a response rate of 32 per cent (113 respondents). There was a 57 per cent response rate (38 respondents) in areas with an agreement, and in an area without an agreement there was a 26 per cent response rate (74 respondents).
  • The phrase “established agreements” is used where respondents indicated that it was “too early to tell” were excluded from the figure given.
  • Face-to-face fundraising on the street is solicitation of a regular gift (usually monthly) to charity, usually by a Direct Debit. It also covers obtaining contact details to call the potential donor at a later date, and donations via text messaging.
  • In its response to Lord Hodgson’s 2012 statutory review of the Charities Act 2006, the Government accepted the need to reform the licensing system for public charitable collections, but supported the work of the PFRA and LGA to provide stronger self-regulation as a first resort, before statutory regulation is considered.

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