It is a pity someone at the otherwise excellent Art Fund has decided the charity will behave like a big, bad company and suggest donors pay for its mistakes.

One gentle editor of a charity publication we know fell foul of this bad thinking when he gladly took out an annual direct debit subscription to the excellent Art Card, giving him valuable free entry to a number of highly-regarded art galleries, and discounts from many others. Sadly the Art Fund then wrote claiming that his bank had “declined the transaction” and suggesting that he either fund the amount, around £80, some other way or send the card back explaining why he had cancelled it. (he hadn’t) There was also the suggestion that he could phone an 0844 number to discuss other options.

Although not stated on the letter the BT operator advised him that this option would cost him 11 pence a minute so he then spent around 50 pence to call it up and be told, without apology and with a refusal to call him back, that there had been a mistake and he should ignore the letter as another one explaining everything was on its way.

Sure enough, after eight days the promised second letter arrived explaining that the error was all the charity’s as they had not set up his instruction with his bank resulting in the request for money understandably being declined.

The point of all this admittedly small beer is that it is invidious to ask customers/donors to phone a premium-rate number and pay anything to sort out your mistakes. And it does nothing for the increasingly poor image of the charity sector, which could be setting others good examples of how to behave.

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