The Royal British Legion has suspended its contract with Magnum Direct Ltd, the fundraising agency that sells its poppy lottery tickets, following a Mail on Sunday investigation.
At the weekend The Mail on Sunday claimed that an undercover reporter at the agency had exposed “how commission-led salesmen break industry rules to extract cash”.
It alleged that:
- “A team manager boasted that he lied to the public by saying he is an unpaid volunteer when he is a paid fundraiser pocketing hundreds of pounds a week;
- Employees are instructed to knock on doors even when they have ‘no cold callers’ signs;
- Donors are told their money is going directly towards a new rehabilitation centre for injured troops, when it actually goes into the charity’s general funds;”
The report also claimed that one named team manager used racist language.
Context of the latest allegations
The investigation follows:
* a five-day series of reports by The Daily Mail in early July about techniques alleged to have been used at telephone fundraising agency GoGen as it raised funds for at least four national charities
* the front page interview with the chair of the Charity Commission one day before with a headline calling for chuggers or face-to-face fundraisers to be banned.
All of this follows the extensive coverage and commentary from May onwards in which The Daily Mail attempted to link the death of Mrs Olive Cooke with the volume of fundraising appeals she had been receiving. Indeed, Mrs Cooke was again invoked in the latest report, with the photo caption: “committed suicide after being harassed by charities”.
Responses to latest allegations
A Magnum Direct Ltd spokeswoman was quoted by The Mail on Sunday saying:
“Magnum are very disappointed to have this feedback from within our company. We do not knowingly as an organisation break fundraising rules and we do not condone dishonesty nor racism on any level. We have already taken action by suspending the person in question.”
A spokesperson for The Royal British Legion said:
“The Royal British Legion takes these allegations against one of our suppliers extremely seriously, and has launched an urgent investigation. While the investigation is underway we have suspended the services of Magnum Direct. Once the investigation is complete we will take appropriate action, so we can continue to ensure all of our suppliers conform to the highest standards in fundraising practices.”
The Institute of Fundraising told The Mail on Sunday that it had revoked Magnum Direct’s status as a ‘corporate supporter’ of the national membership organisation for fundraisers.
Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, the independent self-regulatory body for charity fundraising in the UK, said that it had begun an investigation into the claims on Friday. He added:
“We are extremely concerned to hear of allegations by the Mail on Sunday about another fundraising organisation breaching aspects of the IoF Code of Practice. The Code is designed to safeguard the public from sub-standard fundraising practices and it is critical that fundraisers treat the public with respect, openness and honesty at all times. The FRSB will investigate these claims.”
The Poppy Lottery
The Poppy Lottery raises funds for the Royal British Legion. It is run by Royal British Legion Poppy Lottery Ltd, a subsidiary trading company of The Royal British Legion.
Players pay £4.34 for one entry in the weekly draws, with a chance of winning one of 200 cash prizes each Friday, including a top prize of £2,000. They are also entered into a quarterly jackpot draw to win either £15,000 or £20,000. Each weekly ticket costs £1.
Players must be over 16, and can purchase lottery tickets online, via kiosks or via a doorstep promoter such as Magnum Direct Ltd.
Get free email updates
Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]