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Face-to-face fundraising pilot launched

We've just launched our pilot face-to-face fundraising campaign. The pilot will last for four months and will happen across the UK.

We'll be using paid, professional fundraisers who are based all around the UK and will be fundraising on our behalf. With our new fundraising programme, we're hoping to raise an additional £5m of unrestricted income over the next five years.

We know that you may have questions about this, so we've tried to answer them below:

What is face-to-face fundraising?
We'll be working with REAL Fundraising and their professional fundraisers who go door to door, visiting residential areas to speak to supporters at their homes. They'll ask them to support the MS Society with a regular gift, and share information about us and what we do. They may also work from private sites, such as shopping centres and train stations, to recruit new regular donors and raise more awareness about the MS Society.

We won't be undertaking any face-to-face fundraising in public streets. We'll only be doing door-to-door fundraising and private site fundraising.

Why have we decided to do face-to-face fundraising?
Face-to-face fundraising is a cost-effective way to raise vital regular funds, and raise awareness of the MS Society and MS. It's a very important and highly effective part of the fundraising programmes of many charities. It'll enable us to reach areas all across the UK.

It allows fundraisers to have one-to-one conversations with members of the public to raise awareness and find new supporters. It's the only channel of fundraising that allows us to have these one-to-one conversations with people on a large scale all around the UK.

The other added benefit of face-to-face fundraising is the opportunity to further raise awareness of our brand. All fundraisers will be in branded clothing and our private site fundraisers will have branded banners and stands. We'll also be signposting people to our national and local services, including volunteering and our local groups.

There will undoubtedly be some reservations about this fundraising method, which can feel intrusive. So it's likely to result in a higher number of enquiries into our Supporter Care Team from people checking the identity of the fundraisers, and potentially a small number of complaints.

We've chosen to work with a fundraising agency, REAL Fundraising, who have a comprehensive training programme and fundraiser monitoring in place. They also have a lower-than-average complaint rate. We'll be monitoring the campaign closely during its four-month pilot period and carrying out mystery shopper tests to ensure the fundraising is to our high standards.

What does this mean for local groups?
Occasionally, you may see, or be visited by, one of our face-to-face fundraisers. If you have any feedback about them, please do let us know by emailing [email protected]. Each week, the Volunteer Support Team will receive a list of the areas that face-to-face fundraisers will be visiting. They'll pass this information on to groups in those locations. The areas will also be posted here on our MS Society website.

We're also asking groups to send a list of any street fundraising collections or private site fundraising collections to the Volunteer Support Team. We'll then send these to our fundraising agency to avoid any potential clashes.

Can people give a donation to local groups and services?
Our fundraisers aren't able to take one-off donations or regular gifts which are restricted. If a donor asks for their gift to be restricted to a local group, they'll be given the details of the MS Society website or our Supporter Care telephone number in order to make this donation.

Where will the fundraisers be located?
We'll be doing private site fundraising in London and the surrounding areas. And we'll be doing door-to-door fundraising in Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester, and the Midlands.

These locations were chosen by the fundraising agency as they already have fundraising teams there. If the pilot is successful, we'll look at setting up new fundraising teams in other areas across the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When and at what time will they be fundraising?
Our fundraisers will be fundraising Monday-Saturday every day except during the festive period of 24 December to 2 January. They'll typically work from 1pm to 8pm. Those working in private sites (eg shopping centres and train stations) will work according to the opening and closing times of the site where they're based.

How can I tell if someone is a genuine fundraiser?
Our face-to-face fundraisers will be wearing an ID badge and an MS Society branded t-shirt or jacket. They'll be using a tablet to enter supporters’ details.

Our fundraisers will never ask for a gift in cash or ask for sponsorship for an event.

What training have the fundraisers received?
All fundraisers are given comprehensive training by the fundraising agency and the MS Society. The fundraisers are given training about MS, what the MS Society does and how donations make a difference. However, the fundraisers are not trained to be able to answer questions about MS itself or about all our services. They're trained to signpost people to the MS Society website or our MS Helpline. They're also trained on fundraising rules and regulations and other legal requirements, such as data protection.

Why are we using a professional agency?
Professional agencies allow us to visit more areas and reach more people. Using professional agencies is a very cost-effective way for us to fundraise. The agencies we work with are fully trained and are regulated by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIOF) and the Fundraising Regulator. Our paid fundraisers are paid a living wage and are not paid based on commission.

Will the fundraisers visit ‘No Cold Calling’ areas?
Our fundraisers will avoid No Cold Calling Zones as per the CIOF guidance, if the fundraisers spot them when in one, they will promptly move areas. They're also trained not to knock on a door with a 'No cold calling' sticker.

Any other questions?
If you have a query which isn't answered above, please get in touch with our Supporter Care Team on [email protected] or 020 8438 0700.