Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Charity Begins... with profiteering at any cost

Charities, the epitome of modern day caring and generosity.  That's what we've been led to believe anyway.  While some charities might be staffed and run by kind people increasingly this is not the case in the UK.  They are turning more and more into slick run businesses with PR campaigns and a bottom-line that they need to meet, at any cost.  Basically they are becoming more and more sociopathic.

Recently one OAP committed suicide because she was continually harassed by charities who repeatedly cold called her many times every day.  They preyed upon her because she was a nice person and was known to give money to charities despite her OAP status.

It's a general warning to everyone, especially nice guys, to be wary of people and organisations who present themselves as 'caring' because, like the stereotypical used-car-salesman, there is a good chance that they aren't what they appear to be.  Just because a charity worker, sales person or woman smiles at you doesn't mean that they have good intentions towards you.

Anyway, here's the relevant story from the Daily Mail.  You can find the original HERE.

Shame of the charity cold call sharks: Mail investigation finds Britain's biggest charities ruthlessly hounding the vulnerable and elderly for cash, even if they have OPTED OUT of receiving calls

  • Charity giants have been hounding vulnerable people on a 'no-call' list
  • British Red Cross, Oxfam and Macmillan are exploting loopholes in the TPS
  • The TPS was set up to stop people being hounded at home by cold callers
  • One call centre supervisor told fundraisers he wanted more 'ferocity'
  • Another stressed 'the whole point' was simply asking people for money


Charity giants have been hounding vulnerable people on an official ‘no-call’ list, the Daily Mail can reveal today.
The British Red Cross, NSPCC, Oxfam and Macmillan have all been making calls to households registered with the Telephone Preference Service.
They are exploiting loopholes in the TPS system, which was set up to stop people being hounded at home by cold-callers. Their fundraisers are told to be ‘brutal’ and ‘ferocious’ and that no one has an excuse not to give, even the poor or elderly.
The Information Commissioner’s Office vowed to investigate immediately, saying the charities could be breaking the law.
Charities were already in the spotlight following an outcry over the death of 92-year-old Olive Cooke, who had been swamped by fundraising appeals.
Rob Wilson, who is the minister for civil society, said the behaviour uncovered by the Mail was ‘immoral’.
He added: ‘The evidence is mounting that totally unacceptable practices are taking place at fundraisers.’
Oxfam has suspended all telephone fundraising in the UK while it investigates the Mail’s evidence. The other charities have vowed to investigate.

The Mail’s undercover investigation found that:
  • Donors who reveal they have dementia are still being asked to commit to direct debits;
  • Charities also take money from people who admit to confusion and memory problems;
  • Supporters as old as 91 are being repeatedly called even if they have opted out;
  • The British Red Cross is hounding people for up to three years after they have cancelled their donations;
  • Fundraisers have been handed special scripts to deal with questions about Mrs Cooke.
An undercover Mail reporter worked for three weeks for London-based GoGen, a company that carries out campaigns for 40 of the country’s biggest charities, including Cancer Research UK, Save The Children and Age International.
Major charities, including the NSPCC, the British Red Cross and Macmillan, were found to be calling people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service.
Such people have deliberately opted out of receiving unsolicited calls.
But a loophole means that if they have failed at any point to read the small print in privacy policies, and don’t object to receiving calls, they lose the protection of the TPS system.
After reviewing the Mail’s evidence, Stephen Eckersley, the ICO’s Head of Enforcement, said: ‘We’d like to thank the Daily Mail for bringing this to our attention. On the face of it this could be a breach of both the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
‘We will be launching an investigation into the call centre and charities involved.’
He said charities must follow the same rules on marketing by calls or texts as any other company. Rule breakers face fines of up to £500,000.
Existing supporters are harassed repeatedly to increase their donations – with some Macmillan supporters being called four times in a row, even if they have already said no.
Richard Lloyd, of the consumer group Which?, said: ‘The Government must now carry out a full review of fundraising rules and regulations to put an end to this and save the sector’s reputation.’
Bernard Jenkin, the Tory chairman of the Commons public administration committee, said: ‘The Daily Mail is right to expose this, and I will be asking my committee to look into it.’ Dame Esther Rantzen, a trustee at the NSPCC, said she was ‘horrified’ her charity had been calling vulnerable people on no call lists.
She said: ‘I welcome the investigation, I think it is really important.’
The Fundraising Standards Board – the self-regulatory body for charities in the UK – said it was ‘very concerned’ by the revelations and would investigate fully.
All of the charities denied acting unlawfully but said they would look into the Mail’s evidence as a matter of urgency.
Oxfam is among those to have been using London-based GoGen, a company that carries out campaigns for 40 of Britain's biggest charities
A spokesman for the British Red Cross said the charity was ‘deeply concerned’ by the claims. She said the charity believed it was obeying the law on the TPS but will be ‘seeking clarification’ from the ICO and Institute of Fundraising. The NSPCC said it had ‘contractual arrangements in place with those that fundraise on our behalf, including strict guidance on vulnerable people, and expect the highest standards of behaviour.’
But it added: ‘Any suggestion of inappropriate activity is deeply worrying and we would want any concerns to be raised with us immediately so that they can be quickly addressed.’
A Macmillan spokesman said: ‘We take the claims made by the Daily Mail seriously and are looking into these as a priority.
‘We do not wish to contact people if we are aware this is unwanted. We take the requests of our supporters very seriously and all supporters can choose to unsubscribe from communications at any time.
‘We would not hesitate to take robust action if we found our agencies were not acting with upmost integrity on our behalf.’
Oxfam said it had suspended all telephone fundraising activity to ‘ensure companies who work on our behalf meet not only the regulatory standards but also our own high moral and ethical standards’.
It said the dementia and Alzheimer’s policy was all about ‘enabling people with dementia to live as full a life as possible, including supporting their favourite charity.’
Tim Hunter, fundraising director, said: ‘Oxfam fights for the rights of poor and vulnerable people across the world and we apply our values to all aspects of our work. We would never exploit an individual’s vulnerability in our marketing.

‘Our guidelines around telephone fundraising are also aligned to those of the Institute of Fundraising, who consulted the Alzheimer’s Society, Scope and AgeUK.

‘Our agencies have clear, regulated policies that help strike the appropriate balance between enabling people with dementia to live as full a life as possible, including supporting their favourite charity, and protecting them from the vulnerability caused by dementia.’
Yesterday it also emerged that Save The Children had decided to end cold-calling.
Giuseppe Iantosca of GoGen said he had suspended two members of staff while the firm investigated the Mail’s evidence.
He also said GoGen would not ask those with dementia for money in future.

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