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FRSB upholds complaints against children's charity

FRSB upholds complaints against children's charity

The (FRSB) has upheld a series of serious complaints about the fundraising practices of children’s charity Painted Children. It found the charity has been, and continues to be, in breach of sector best practice while operating illegally in its public fundraising.

Consequently, the Board will expel Painted Children and deny it membership renewal from the FRSB, the first time that it has expelled a member charity. It will also report it formally to the Charity Commission, Trading Standards, the Metropolitan Police and relevant licensing authorities, with recommendations that these organisations should investigate further.

The complaints had escalated to a final Stage 3 Adjudication by the FRSB, and the adjudication was made after a lengthy investigation and attempts by the FRSB to resolve the issues.

The complaints upheld cited illegal street cash collections at numerous retail sites, outside London Underground stations and public highway sites across London, using paid fundraisers and without the necessary site licenses or permissions.

The FRSB held meetings with the charity to try to resolve the complaints and its compliance team provided “significant advice and ./guidance”. However, the FRSB said that the charity failed to respond fully to its requests to secure and provide evidence of the required licenses and regulatory compliance.

The FRSB Board considered the complaints in the context of the Police, Factories and c. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916, the Street Collections (Metropolitan Police District) Regulations of 1979 and the Fundraising Promise commitments. The latter states: “We are committed to high standards (we comply with the law), We are honest and open, We are fair and reasonable”.

It also proposed to help the charity correct its compliance practices and assist it to comply with the necessary regulations under a 12-month monitoring programme.

Colin Lloyd, Chairman of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: “Painted Children has been knowingly fundraising illegally and breaching the Fundraising Promise and has shown reluctance and complacency in its approach to both its fundraising malpractice and possible resolution, which in turn caused deep concern about the charity’s governance. This is an example of a charity acting irresponsibly and potentially bringing the entire sector into disrepute in a very public facing fashion…

“The FRSB Board agreed in this case to take the strongest action open to it.”

In upholding the complaints, the Board recommended that the Institute of Fundraising review its Codes of Practice for this area of fundraising, with a view of merging the current codes that cover variations of cash collections or creating a new standalone code for Public Cash Collections.

Painted Children‘s website appears to make no mention of the adjudication, but the charity is active fundraising in a variety of ways, including a skydive, an advert in the Police Community Clubs magazine, and The Big Give. It also features the logo of the Good Fundraising Code, whose third principle requires signatories “To abide by all legal regulations governing fundraising and aim for best practice”.

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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