Telephone fundraising specialist agency Personal Telephone Fundraising today ceased to trade. It had experienced a significant and sustained drop in the number of charities wanting to use the telephone to fundraise following the negative publicity around some telephone fundraising agencies in the summer of 2015.
The company is the latest in a string of specialist fundraising agencies that have closed following the media and political criticism of some charities and their fundraising practices.
The Brighton-based company was not implicated in any of the media investigations and allegations about practices by some telephone fundraising agencies. But it was certainly affected by the decision by many charities to suspend or cancel planned fundraising campaigns
Co-founder and Managing and Creative Director Jane Cunningham said that, following the events of the summer, “PTF saw its work capacity drop by 70% overnight”. As a result its overheads greatly exceeded its revenue. Despite restructuring the business and implementing strategies to achieve compliant opt-in in preparation for charities returning to telephone fundraising, she said “we could not at that time have anticipated how slow and faltering an uptake in client activity would be”.
Permanent staff contracts
Cunningham said that PTF had striven for the highest standards in telephone fundraising, “being one of the few, if not the only, telephone fundraising agency in the charity sector who employed all of their fundraisers on permanent contracts, paying our fundraisers well above living wage, with no commission”.
Following the telephone fundraising summit held on the 31 July 2015, the agency informed its clients that they could not call TPS unless they had the proper permissions in place.
Eight months later, the agency was still struggling to secure enough work. Some charities continued to use the agency’s services, but Cunningham says that they were constrained by changes within the sector that inhibited forward planning.
The end came earlier this month when staff had to be sent home for a second week in the month after work promised had not materialised.
Cunningham said of the company that had raised over £337 million for charity clients over 20 years:
“We felt it was important to close the doors whilst still able to pay the staff wages and minimise incurring financial debt within the business”.
“It is clear today that the company, through no fault or actions of its own, is unable to continue to trade in an effective manner. It is for this reason that sadly the organisation has today ceased trading”.
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