Like many other charities, CPRE engages in telephone fundraising. Indeed, it is our most effective method of recruiting new members and asking existing members to upgrade their contributions. We cannot afford newspaper or billboard advertising; we do not do street fundraising (‘chugging’); and other face-to-face fundraising has, like direct mail, proved too expensive to be justifiable.
Without telephone fundraising, CPRE would find it much harder to recruit members and raise money. Consequently, we would be less able to achieve our charitable purpose of protecting and improving the countryside for the benefit of the nation.
But telephone fundraising is now under the spotlight, and not just because most people are sometimes irritated by phone calls from salespeople or their automated machines (if the firm that keeps ringing me about my accident at work is reading this: please stop calling, I haven’t had an accident at work). The criticisms of charity fundraising are much more serious, with allegations of charities preying on vulnerable people. A series of articles in the Daily Mail has uncovered fundraising practices that, in the words of the NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington, ‘have shocked not just the public, but also many people who work for charities’.
The Government now plans to legislate and it is consulting the sector on what sort of regulation is necessary to stamp out bad practice. This is as it should be. No one should condone the harassment of vulnerable people, and it is the more obscene if charities are engaging in such harassment.
But moral panic followed by a rush to legislate rarely leads to sound laws. Continue reading ‘In defence of (some) telephone fundraising’