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New best practice regime for street fundraisers

20/08/12

A new best practice regime for street fundraisers – comprising new rules and a fines system – comes into effect today [20 August 2012]. The entire regime has been on trial since August 2011 but from today PFRA’s compliance team will be issuing penalty notices to fundraising organisations that breach the rules.

The rules – which build on the Institute of Fundraising’s code of practice – are contained in the PFRA Rule Book (Street F2F), which can be found by following the links to the ‘best practice’ section of our website.

PFRA carried out a full review of regime after six months of the trial, after which some new rules were added and some penalties increased (download a summary of the changes from our 'best practice' section).

Under the rules fundraisers must not:

  • follow a person for more than three steps
  • stand within 3m of a shop doorway, cashpoint, pedestrian crossing or station entrance
  • sign up to a Direct Debit anyone unable to give informed consent through illness, disability, or drink or drugs
  • approach any members of the public who are working, such as tour guides or newspaper vendors.

One of the main changes is to the ‘three-step rule’, which has been amended to stipulate that fundraisers may not take more than three steps alongside someone they are attempting to engage and is designed to prevent people being followed by fundraisers.

Previously, the three-step rule stipulated that fundraisers could take up to three steps towards a person, three steps backwards and then three steps alongside a person. The new version of the rule allows fundraisers to take any number of steps towards a person providing that, as soon as they have engaged that person, they don’t follow them for more than three steps.

Nick Henry, PFRA’s head of standards, says: “The point of the rule is to stop people being followed, so how many steps they take towards someone is much less of an issue. We think this is a more commonsense version of the rule and means fundraisers don’t need to perform an intricate ‘chugger waltz'.”

Under the penalties regime, breach of the rules will incur penalties of 20, 50 or 100 points depending on the severity of the misdemeanour. Once fundraising organisations – agencies or charities running in-house teams – pass a 1,000-point threshold, the points will be converted into fines at the rate of £1 per point.

All money paid in fines will be ringfenced to be used for further compliance and enforcement activity – such as more mystery shopping – by the PFRA.

Details of how the penalties and fines process operates can be found on the ‘penalty points regime’ pages.

Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, says: “For a form of fundraising that is so regularly in the limelight, it is vitally important that fundraisers work to the highest possible standards in order to maintain the confidence of the public, media, and central and local government.

“The commitment made by all of our charity and agency members to conform to these new special standards is testament to the seriousness with which charities take their best practice obligations.”