Dishonest charity sign-ups targeted
An alliance of 19 organisations has set up a code of conduct to repair damage to their public image caused by the behaviour of overly aggressive or dishonest charity fund-raisers, it said yesterday.
The Face-to-Face Monthly Giving Alliance is seeking to strengthen its credibility by laying down rules for street-level recruiters who sign up donors to give on a monthly basis.
Alliance chairwoman Bonnie So Yuen-han, assistant secretary general of the Hong Kong Red Cross, said: 'Charities worldwide are seeking donors who can commit to making monthly payments. That creates a more stable flow of donations for our beneficiaries.'
If the charities follow the code of conduct, they can use the alliance logo as a mark of trust, but if any of the code rules are broken, the logo will be stripped from them.
The alliance's best-known members include WWF, Unicef, Oxfam and the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation. Two of the alliance members are associations - the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Lawmaker Peter Cheung Kwok-che, who represents the social welfare sector and supports the alliance, said: 'The relationship between charities and donors has been wrecked by abusers of goodwill. Besides buying flags, I used to never donate money on street level. I understand when Hongkongers feel a bit wary of committing as a monthly donor, especially if they have been tricked in the past.'
Cheung hopes the alliance will regulate itself and constantly improve with the public's feedback.
The rules include no cash or cheque can be sought in an initial face-to-face meeting with a potential donor; no false information can be conveyed; each charity's mission must be made clear; and no personal information is to be released. Those under the age of 16 can only register for monthly donations if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
'It's a significant amount of money that they are signing up to donate. It's not the same as buying a flag for HK$5 or HK$10. So if we have kids signing up, we want there to be an adult's consent,' said So.
For charities outsourcing their street-level fund-raising to agencies, one of the rules forbids the calculation of their salaries based on the amount of money they raise. This rule aims to eradicate competitive salesman-like fund-raising.
The alliance's five board members - each of whom are from one of the alliance's organisations - will follow up on complaints. If the complaint involves an organisation that a board member is part of, then he or she must declare a conflict of interest and not be involved.