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Regulator investigations find two charities & their agencies in breach of Code

Fundraising Regulator logo

In separate investigations, the Fundraising Regulator has found SOS Children’s Villages and Breast Cancer Now, along with their agencies, in breach of the Code for interactions with vulnerable and potentially vulnerable individuals.

The Regulator’s investigation into SOS Children’s Villages UK and its agency Zen Fundraising Ltd (published today) found the charity and agency in breach of two standards of the Code of Fundraising Practice.

The investigation was launched following a complaint from a member of the public, who detailed and recorded three separate interactions with fundraisers. The Fundraising Regulator found, in the first interaction, that the fundraiser continued to engage the complainant after they indicated that they wanted the interaction to end, in breach of the Code. Fundraisers were also reported to have laughed at an offensive remark made by a passerby, breaching the Code sections on politeness.


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The Fundraising Regulator did not find the charity or agency to have acted in a manner that was discriminatory and found that SOS Children’s Villages handled the complaint acceptably, taking reasonable steps to investigate the complaint, and seeking to remedy the situation by apologising to the complainant and retraining fundraisers. Both SOS Children’s Villages and Zen Fundraising accepted the findings of the investigation.

Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said:

“Charities and fundraising agencies should take careful note of our findings in this/these investigations. Fundraisers must be trained to recognise when they might be interacting with a potentially vulnerable individual, and behave accordingly.”

In a separate investigation, Breast Cancer Now’s contracted fundraising agency APPCO UK was found to have breached provisions regarding interacting with vulnerable individuals, having taken donations from an individual whom they had good reason to believe lacked capacity. Breast Cancer Now was judged to have breached provision 7.3.1, which calls for charities to ensure that contracted agencies comply with the Code.

Since the departure from APPCO UK of the fundraiser, the Fundraising Regulator could not definitively establish the facts of the case, but made a judgement based on the balance of probabilities, and concluded that the fundraiser proceeded to solicit a donation despite having reason to believe that the individual was vulnerable. It could not be determined that a ‘no cold-callers’ sign was ignored.

Both Breast Cancer Now and APPCO have accepted the findings and recommendations of the investigation.