Socially Responsible Fundraising Policy

child smiles on mom's lap

Fundraising is essential to support Smile Train’s work. We are always striving for new donations to help further our efforts of life-changing cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care for affected children.

We are aware that we may come across people who, perhaps unbeknown to us from the outset, may actually lack mental capacity, be infirm, have a learning disability, a hearing or visual impairment, be suffering from dementia or alcohol abuse, or perhaps have been recently bereaved or for whom English is not their first language. These are but a few examples of vulnerability, which require socially responsible treatment by our staff.

We neither wish to make assumptions nor cause offence.  We simply recognise our responsibility to react sensitively to an individual’s needs. We are committed to treating all members of the public and donors fairly, and with respect.

This is why all of our fundraisers are now trained as follows:

  • To prioritise potential donors’ welfare above our desire to fundraise. So, if we have any concerns about an individual’s ability to make an informed decision to donate, we are clear: we will not accept a donation and will gently curtail the interaction, ensuring the individual is not contacted again.
  • Where an individual appears to require additional help or support to make an informed decision about a donation, we will:
    • take more time with them;
    • offer to contact them in a different way (eg by letter or an alternative format);
    • double check their understanding of the relevant parts of our conversation;
    • and/or offer to call back at a more convenient time when a family member or friend might be present to assist.
  • We welcome engagement from third parties acting in the interests of the donor or potential donor. We have specific procedures for verifying the third party’s right to interact on behalf of a vulnerable individual. Once checked, Smile Train is content to receive, and act on, instructions by these third parties in respect of both one-off donations and/or ongoing mandates.

This policy is consistent with both the Institute of Fundraising Guidance “Treating Donors Fairly” and the Direct Marketing Association’s White paper “Guidelines for call centres dealing with vulnerable consumers.”

It applies to all Smile Train fundraising in the UK whether face-to-face, over the phone or via direct mail, including where fundraising is undertaken on our behalf by a third party agency. (Smile Train performs regular reviews of our third party agencies to ensure they comply with this policy).

Any complaint concerning Smile Train’s fundraising conduct, whether in relation to “vulnerable” people or otherwise, should be made in accordance with Smile Train’s complaints procedure.