Shame and ban charities for pestering vulnerable consumers, review says

A British trade association for the marketing industry has welcomed plans to create a new charity regulator with robust powers to clamp down on cold-calling and intrusive junk mail.

The DMA agreed with the review led by Sir Stuart Etherington, the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, particularly on how charities should comply with its guidelines for dealing with vulnerable customers in all their fundraising activities and communications.

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DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri said: “Every company that operates today comes into contact with people who find it difficult to make informed decisions. It’s no longer just ‘nice to have’ the ability to deal with vulnerable consumers, but a necessity. It’s also good business sense.

“We have produced these new guidelines and training materials to help our members stick to the DMA Code. We believe that the material is too important to be limited by membership, so they are freely available to anyone who needs them, and we urge businesses that use them in their telemarketing,” she said.

The government-commissioned review also recommended the creation of a new register to allow people to opt out of all charity contact.

It follows concerns about aggressive fundraising tactics by some charities, particularly targeting the vulnerable, following the death of 92-year-old Olive Cooke, a lifelong supporter of good causes, who had been overwhelmed by requests from charities.

Etherington said the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) “really doesn’t have the clout or the sanctions” to prevent bad practice.

Charities that fail to comply with rules on harassment and protecting personal details should be named and shamed and, in some cases, banned from certain types of fundraising, it concludes.


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