News : Cold Calling Boss Blames Charities as His Firm Goes Bust
London, UK, July 24, 2015 -- A call centre boss exposed by the Daily Mail said yesterday that charities must take more responsibility for ‘fundraising that happens under their watch’.
Giuseppe Iantosca also announced the closure yesterday of his fundraising agency GoGen, which our investigation caught using high-pressure tactics.
The company, which worked for the NSPCC, British Red Cross, Oxfam and Macmillan, was revealed to be targeting the elderly and vulnerable, telephoning people on the Government’s ‘no-call’ list and taking money from dementia victims.
The Prime Minister quickly intervened to announce a new law to curb the shameful practices exposed by the Mail.
Mr Iantosca said: ‘Whether we knock on doors, stop people in the street, telephone or mail them, it needs to be done in a more responsible way, with clearer guidance, more support and less pressure.
‘It is vitally important that charities and industry bodies take more responsibility for the fundraising that happens under their watch, including that of the agencies they instruct to carry out their work.’
The unscrupulous fundraising tactics of big charities were laid bare in the Mail investigation earlier this month.
An undercover reporter spent three weeks on campaigns at a GoGen call centre in East London. Staff were found to be asking dementia sufferers to commit to direct debits and to give bank details over the phone.
Fundraisers were ordered to be ‘brutal’ when asking for money and told that members of the public ‘have no excuse’ not to give, even if poor or elderly.
Charity supporters as old as 91 were being repeatedly telephoned and asked to give more money even if they opted out of calls.
The Prime Minister’s new law will force charities to have legally binding agreements with fundraisers to show how they will protect the vulnerable.
Charities with a turnover above £1million were ordered to document how they monitor fundraisers to make sure they do not exploit potential donors.
Mr Cameron also announced a wide-ranging review of the whole fundraising sector, chaired by Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
The Mail’s revelations prompted investigations from the Fundraising Standards Board and the Information Commissioner’s Office; MPs on the public administration committee threatened to haul charity bosses to Parliament to explain themselves.
Downing Street is understood to be considering imposing more far-reaching statutory regulation if charities do not mend their ways.
Announcing his intervention, Mr Cameron had said: ‘Our charities undertake vital work, bringing communities together and providing support to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
‘But the conduct of some fundraisers used by them is frankly unacceptable and damages the reputation of the sector as a whole, which is why we’re introducing a new law to make sure charities raise funds in the right sort of way. I’d also like to express my thanks to the Daily Mail for bringing this to light.’
GoGen has now closed its four offices after charities suspended their contracts with the firm because of the Mail’s findings.
Mr Iantosca said it was likely that GoGen would enter a formal insolvency process next week.
While the Information Commissioner’s investigation into fundraising methods is ongoing, Mr Iantosca said the probe into GoGen had been dropped ‘as it was satisfied that, as a data processor, we were compliant’.
He added: ‘We have had no choice but to make 485 employees redundant across our offices in London, Nottingham, Bedford and Bristol.
‘The directors would like to thank our fundraisers for their talent and commitment. They have helped to raise more than £80million for our charity clients in the past five years alone.
Allegations of widespread abuses of fundraising guidelines and data protection rules are simply not true.’
Charities which used GoGen – including the NSPCC, British Red Cross, Oxfam and Macmillan – insisted they had ‘clear contractual agreements’ with their fundraisers with ‘strict guidance’ on the vulnerable.
An Oxfam spokesman said: ‘We welcome this decision from the Government to enable us to rid our sector of rogue fundraisers and recognise the efforts of the Daily Mail for bringing this issue into the public arena.
'Oxfam fights to protect vulnerable people and we will work with others to make sure these regulations are transparent and robust.’
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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