Following Cold Calling Investigation, UK Charities Face New Regulations

In the United Kingdom, the Telephone Preference Service allows people to opt-out of being cold-called, or contacted via phone by unsolicited parties. Cold calling has been a prominent tactic by which British charities have raised money in the past, but recent events have led to an investigation of that practice, and some changes in the guidelines that charitable organizations must follow in order to be allowed to operate.

The Institute of Fundraising, a self-regulatory body that keeps the charitable community in line, has changed its code to reflect more strict policy concerning cold calling. For example, charities may not knock on doors with a “no cold-caller” sticker. Charities must ensure that any telephone fundraising companies they contract with are complying with the Telephone Preference Service. Charities may not accept donations from anyone without the legal capacity to donate, such as people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These new parts of the code, and others, are now mandatory, and the language of the code has been changed from “ought to” to “must.”

The government has called for charities to do more to ensure that they aren’t harassing donors, potential or otherwise. Minsters have stated that, if charities cannot bring their policies into line, the government will act to legislate new guidelines for charitable organizations. Potential legislation would require that charities and fundraisers outline exactly how vulnerable potential donors will be protected from fundraising practices, and would require all charities which earn more than £1 million a year to publish the details of their fundraising activities each year.

In light of recent investigations into the actions of charities in both the United Kingdom and the United States, new requirements seem like an obvious choice. Change seems more likely in the UK though, as charities there are under significantly more public and governmental scrutiny than they are in the United States.