10 October 2011
Childreach International Complaint Not Upheld
The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has not upheld a complaint made against Childreach International (Registered Charity number 1132203) after the charity refused to refund an event participant’s deposit of £220 for ‘Climb Kilimanjaro for Kids’. In an adjudication ruling last week, the FRSB Board determined that the charity had been “fair and reasonable” and was justified in maintaining that the deposit paid by the complaint was non-refundable.
The complainant had planned to complete the Climb Kilimanjaro for Kids challenge event this Summer, but was unable to participate due to a change in date of the event and because insufficient funds had been raised. (The charity requires a minimum sponsorship level of £2,440 from each participant). Whilst the complainant’s sponsors were happy for Childreach International to keep the donations raised (equating to a total of £1729.98), the complainant requested a refund of the £220 deposit paid to participate in the climb.
When the charity first notified participants of the change in date, it had offered to refund the deposit for any participants no longer able to do the climb. This offer was not accepted by the complainant at that time. On cancelling participation in the event 6 months later, the complainant was offered the opportunity to defer entry to the following year’s event. Responding to the request for a refund of the deposit, Childreach International declined stating that deposits for Climb Kilimanjaro for Kids are non-refundable as set out in the event’s Terms & Conditions.
After attempted resolutions by the charity and with FRSB intervention, the complaint was escalated to a Stage 3 adjudication. The complaint was investigated on the basis that the complainant claimed to be unaware of this clause within the terms and conditions, was dissatisfied that the deposit refund offer was no longer available and that the charity had breached section F of the Charity Commission’s CC20 guidelines. (The latter guidelines concerned falied appeals and was not applicable to this case).
The FRSB Board reviewed the complaint against the Fundraising Promise clause “We Are Fair and Reasonable” and the Institute of Fundraising's Codes of Fundraising Practice. The Board agreed that Childreach International had been fully compliant with this guidance and was justified in maintaining that the deposit paid by the complaint was non-refundable.
Colin Lloyd, Chair of the Fundraising Standards Board, says: “Childreach International acted reasonably both by offering to refund the complainant when it changed the date of the climb nine months ago and the opportunity to defer participation to 2012. The terms and conditions for the event are clear and the charity was perfectly within its rights to withhold the deposit. This case highlights the importance of participants thoroughly reading through their obligations before signing on the dotted line.”
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