Secret filming at fundraising call centres by the Channel Four Dispatches TV documentary series has revealed some worrying lapses in ethics at two large firms appointed by two large charities. (HOW TO STOP YOUR NUISANCE CALLS, Monday August 8th 2014)

At NTT Fundraising in Bristol, appointed by the Great Ormond Street children’s charity, an undercover reporter was told it was fine to lie about their own personal circumstances in order to build rapport with potential donors called, but to avoid false claims that their own children had cancer, and/or were treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital, “because they could be found out”. The reporter was also told that they would be expected to get 42 new sign-ups from donors per month, and would be paid financial incentives for bettering this number, but was in any case sacked after two days training for failing to ask every potential donor three times for money, and for accepting too many objections for not donating from the people she called.

At Pell and Bales in London, appointed by the Royal National Institute for the Blind, donors were not told they were being called by an appointed and paid, call centre until after they had agreed to donate and financial details had been taken. Should a donor question this, and ask why they had not been speaking to an unpaid volunteer, the staff at Pell and Bales told the undercover reporter to lie that they “had children to feed”. The company claims to have raised more than £1 billion for more than 100 British charities.

According to the Fundraising Standards Board complaints about fundraising charity calls jumped by 26% in 2013. Time for the charity sector to clean up its marketing with its own dedicated Telephone Preference service allowing consumers to opt out of all charity fundraising calls?

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