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Charity street fundraisers to face stiff new laws in UK

The British Public Fundraising Regulatory Association updates list of rules which target ‘chuggers’ – but no such moves are yet afoot in Ireland.
Aug 22nd 2012, 7:00 AM 3,734 14

CHARITY WORKERS WHO perform street fundraising in the UK have become subject to strict new laws.

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) have published a new rule book on the matter, which came into effect this month after a year-long trial. The PFRA estimate that face-to-face fundraisers, sometimes known as chuggers, raise £130 million a year for charities in the UK.

The penalty-points system fines organisations £1 for every point that fundraisers working on their behalf incur, once a threshold of 1,000 points has been reached.

New Rules

Organisations now can incur 100 points for failing to submit the solicitation statement which they use in dealing with members of the public to the PFRA.

In addition, fundraisers who approach members of the public who are deemed to be ‘on duty’, such as tour guides, will incur a penalty 20 points.

Amended Rules

The rule which previously prevented fundraisers from standing within three metres of an ATM has now been updated to also include shop entrances, pedestrian crossings and station entrances. Any breach of this carries a penalty of 50 points.

The ‘three-step’ rule has also been given an update, with fundraisers no longer allowed to take more than three steps alongside a person in their attempts to engage them, regardless of whether the person they are talking to has given their permission.

Penalty points have also been increased for causing a deliberate obstruction or for signing up anyone who they believe to be affected by drugs or alcohol.

Restrictions

The news comes as Cheltenham Borough Council in England are set to reduce the number of days on which charities can raise funds, in addition to the number of collectors who can take part.

The council of Islington, in England, had earlier this year considered introducing a bye-law to ban face-to-face street collecting. When contacted by TheJournal.ie, however, they said that no bye-laws had been enacted thus far.

Ireland

Senator Catherine Noone of Fine Gael, who has previously expressed her belief that regulation is needed on this issue in Ireland, told TheJournal.ie that similar regulations here “would be a very good idea,” and would “benefit the charity as well as the public”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, director of services for Galway City Council, Ciarán Hayes, said that the issue of face-to-face fundraising is “not a particular issue in Galway” and only “pops up intermittently from time to time”.

He went on to say that “like any other sector, if there is regulation in the area, we would welcome any regulation”.

Dublin City Council said it had no comment to make on the issue. Cork City Council did not reply to a request for comment.

Read: New charities code promises greater transparency over ‘chuggers’ >

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Paul Hyland

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