Telephone fundraising agency GoGen Ltd, the object of a Daily Mail investigation and reports earlier this month, has ceased trading after 15 years.
Giuseppe Iantosca, a director of GoGen Ltd said today:
“In the past twenty-four hours, we have had no choice but to make 485 employees redundant across our offices in London, Nottingham, Bedford and Bristol. We are urgently reviewing the options for the future of our business with financial advisors… but it is likely that GoGen will enter a formal insolvency process early next week”.
He took the opportunity to thank all the fundraisers who worked at the agency “for their talent and commitment”. In the past five years they had helped raise more than £80 million for the company’s charity clients.
The Daily Mail made a series of allegations based on an undercover reporter working for the agency and covertly filming some employees. The reports focused on the telephoning of people registered with the Telephone Preference Service and vulnerable people who were suffering from dementia.
The reports, including front page headlines, continued for five days in a row two weeks ago, culminating in The Daily Mail declaring “Victory!” as it convinced the Prime Minister to introduce “tough new laws” within days. It focused on GoGen clients the British Red Cross, Macmillan Cancer Support, Oxfam and the NSPCC and accused them of “taking donations over the phone from those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”.
GoGen disputed the claims, suspended two members of staff, and put out this statement:
GoGen's statement on today's Daily Mail article. pic.twitter.com/udNDsKXcvK
— GoGen (@GoGenLtd) July 7, 2015
“It has been impossible for GoGen to cope with the reduction in business resulting from recent media coverage”.
He argues that “allegations of widespread abuses of fundraising guidelines and data protection rules are simply not true”. Indeed, the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and The Sun have so far reported on the alleged activities of some staff at only four telephone fundraising agencies.
In GoGen’s case, Iantosca pointed out that:
“Only yesterday the Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed that it had dropped its investigation against us as it was satisfied that, as a data processor, we were compliant– which we have always said was the case. We have never called individuals without the full support and permission of the charity in question”.
He supported calls for considered and measured change and “a united front”, with contributions from charities, industry bodies, regulators and “from the agencies that interact directly with the most important people in the third sector – each and every member of the public”.
Indicating that the current furore and action taken by the government has focused primarily on the telephone fundraising industry, he added:
“Whether we knock on doors, stop people in the street, telephone or mail them, it needs to be done in a more responsible way, with clearer guidance, more support and less pressure. It is vitally important that charities and industry bodies take more responsibility for the fundraising that happens under their watch, including that by the agencies they instruct to carry out their work”.
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