UK Charity Opt-Out Service ‘Unnecessary’ in Australia
5 July 2017 at 4:39 pm
New UK legislation which would fine charities for failing to adhere to a no-contact list is not required in Australia, the nation’s peak body representing professional fundraising has said.
Speaking in light of the UK’s The Fundraising Preference Service, which launched on Thursday, Fundraising Institute Australia CEO Rob Edwards said a similar measure in Australia would be “unnecessary” .
“What we see happening in the UK is a result of market failure, the failure of the charitable sector to self-regulate,” Edwards told Pro Bono News.
Edwards said the measures introduced in the UK were largely a government response to public pressure to regulate charities after media coverage linked the death of British poppy-seller Olive Cooke with the large numbers of requests she received from charities for donations.
According to media reports Cooke received 3,000 charity requests for donations a year and up to 267 letters a month leaving her “distressed and overwhelmed”.
About a quarter of the charities that had Cooke’s details on file passed them on to other organisations, according to the FRSB, the independent self-regulator for charity fundraising in the UK.
Edwards said the background to the charity sector in the UK compared to Australia was very different.
He said based on FIA’s recent introduction of a new code of practice and the states and territories existing frameworks it would be “unlikely” that someone in Australia would receive the same volume of requests.
Edwards said he has not heard of any similar complaints and adherence to the code of practice should be enough to safeguard against something similar happening in Australia.
“More rigorous and effective self-regulatory reforms should be given the opportunity to work until it is proven it can’t work,” he said.
“But the onus now is on charities to be transparent in their dealings with donors but also to honour requests that if people say ‘don’t call me again’, make sure you don’t call them again.”
Edwards said calls for a reversal of the charity exemption from the do-not-call register would be bad news for the sector and would see 10 million Australians excluded from calls for donations.
He said the FIA had established “mystery shoppers” to keep a check on charities but the sector must be given the opportunity to self-regulate.
“I think the work that we are doing now and with the code monitoring authority to see application of the code will go along way to see there is transparency in a whole range of fundraising activities to be honest,” he said.