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  1. ITV Report

Charities 'should be named and shamed' over aggressive fundraising, review says

Charities that bully people into giving money should be named and shamed, a government-backed review has recommended.

One recommendation is to enable people to opt out of receiving letters and phone calls from multiple charities. Credit: PA

The report said the current self-regulatory system was "no longer fit for purpose" and a tough new body should be set up to make sure fundraisers do not overstep the mark in pressing the public for donations.

The cross-party review was set up following the suicide of 92-year-old Olive Cooke, one of Britain's oldest and longest-serving poppy sellers, who received repeated requests from charities for donations, with up to 267 letters a month as well as regular phone calls.

While the review stopped short of calling for state regulation, it said a new watchdog, the Fundraising Regulator, should be accountable to Parliament and have powers to mount investigations and impose a wide range of sanctions.

These should include naming and shaming, "cease and desist" orders and compulsory training, it said.

Olive Cooke dedicated 76 years of her life to selling poppies. Credit: ITV News

Earlier this month, the heads of 17 of Britain's biggest charities supported the idea of introducing measures to prevent aggressive fundraising.

Chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations Sir Stuart Etherington, who headed the review, said the current system had failed to prevent "serious breaches of trust and widespread dissatisfaction" and there was now a "pressing need" to restore public confidence.

"We seem to have found ourselves in a position where charities didn't think hard enough about what it was like to be on the receiving end of some of their fundraising methods," he said.

"They thought too much about the ends and not enough about the means. This has been a clear wake-up call and now is the time to tighten the standards."

Among the report's other recommendations were the creation of a new "fundraising preference service" enabling people to opt out of receiving fundraising letters and phone calls from multiple charities without having to contact each one individually.

They thought too much about the ends and not enough about the means.

This has been a clear wake-up call and now is the time to tighten the standards.

– Sir Stuart Etherington

The review said: "Some of the techniques used, or the manner in which they have been used, present a clear risk of damaging charities in the public eye.

"Despite this, we are clear that charities and those working within them have the best intentions. Unfortunately, good intentions are not always enough to avoid bad outcomes."

The new regulator would be financed by imposing a levy on charities spending more than £100,000-a-year on fundraising.

Civil Society Minister Rob Wilson said the report was an "important contribution" and that he would consider the recommendations fully before responding to its findings.

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