On-street charity direct debit fundraisers
An acquaintance of mine shopping in Liverpool recently was engaged in conversation by a charity fundraiser who persuaded her to make a direct debit to a well respected children’s charity.
She gave him her name, address, bank account details and date of birth and authorised the direct debit.
The next day she started to worry that the whole thing might have been a scam and she might have allowed herself to become a victim of identity theft. Why, she wondered, did he ask for her date of birth? She worried herself about having been so gullible to have given the charming collector so much information.
She contacted the charity and was told that they had indeed authorised on-street collectors in Liverpool that day, and that the information she had been asked for was standard procedure for the direct debit collectors.
She also found out that people, such as herself, in their 20s and 30s were a key demographic target for the collectors because – once signed up for a direct debit – they tended to continue giving for many years. The collectors are not employees of the charity itself, they are from fund raising specialists who charge anything up to 90% of the first year’s donations for the work.
I do have misgivings about this sort of operation. I can understand that charities need to be proactive in securing donations, and I can understand the benefit to the charity of securing a direct debit. It must be very much more effective to secure the direct debit authority there and then, rather than to ask the prospective donor to fill in and post a form later.
But it seems to me that there is scope for abuse of the system and a risk of donors’ personal information falling into the wrong hands. I wonder how carefully these collectors are vetted before being sent onto the streets.
I would suggest that anyone who wishes to donate to charity just contact the charity direct to make the arrangements. Quite apart from the data security aspects, that will ensure the charity gets the benefit of the whole of the donation!