The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association caused controversy in the
sector last week with its announcement of a penalty points system for
organisations whose street fundraisers break the rules.
“Breaking the rules” could be as seemingly trivial as taking
more than three steps alongside a potential donor, or straying outside an
assigned area. More seriously, it could involve aggressive behaviour on the
To get an honest, front-line reaction to the new system I stopped
during a lunch break last week to ask a chugger what he thought.
Despite not having heard of Third
Sector (shock, horror!) he knew all about the PFRA’s plans.
“To be honest, I’m terrified of PFRA inspectors as it
is,” he said. “The rules are so strict. We all break them all the
time, because it’s so hard not to. But I think we still stay within
reasonable social limits and we aren’t pushy.”
So what will happen when the fines come into force? “We’ll
be in a mess,” he said. “It will be really debilitating. You need
to have confidence to approach strangers on the street and if we’re
constantly worried about not putting a foot out of place we won’t be able
to do our jobs.”
Many will no doubt be happy to see chuggers have their wings clipped in
this way. But some charities will see the measure as heavy-handed, especially
since such tight regulation does not apply to most other forms of fundraising.
One thing, though, is becoming clear: if my chugger is right, the
PFRA’s new stance could be a game-changer. It could significantly reduce
the scale of street fundraising and – perhaps – significantly improve its