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  1. ITV Report

Charity regulator planned to stop persistent donation pestering

A special register allowing people to prevent charities from pestering them for donations will be created following the death of a Bristol poppy seller.

92-year-old Olive Cooke killed herself in the Avon Gorge last May after battling depression.

Shortly after her death it was revealed she had been bombarded with thousands of messages from charities she supported.

As a regular donator, the pensioner had previously complained of being pestered by letters and calls Credit: SWNS

The Fundraising Standards Board found she was on the hit list of 99 organisations and received over 400 letters asking for money in the year leading up to her death.

Only 14 of the charities she supported offered her the chance to 'opt out' of further correspondence.

99
charities had Olive's details on file.
70%
of those charities had got hold of Olive's details from a 3rd party.

Now a scheme has been set up to allow users to block charities from cold calling them, or sending begging messages.

The Fundraising Preference Service will also let family members block fundraisers from contacting elderly and vulnerable people on their behalf.

The Fundraising Regulator (FPS) hopes to launch the service this year, subject to approval from members.

A report for the watchdog by a group of charity experts said the FPS will play "a valuable role for those individuals who do not want to receive fundraising communications".

It will be particularly helpful to those who might feel pressurised or overwhelmed by the amount of asks accumulated through time and unable to address this with fundraisers individually.

– FPS
Olive speaking to ITV West Country in 2013 Credit: ITV West Country

HOW WILL IT WORK?

  • Users create an account and choose which charities they want to block from contacting them.
  • Each account will last two years - and users will be asked if they wish to renew their details three months before they expire.
  • Charities which spend more than £100,000 per year on fundraising will be required to bankroll the register by contributing £15,000 annually.
  • It will only apply to fundraising communications and not information letters, or calls put out by charities.

The scheme was created in the wake of great-grandmother Olive Cooke's death in May 2015.

She was Britain's longest selling poppy seller, having collected for the Royal British Legion for 76 years.

14
of the 99 charities contacting Olive offered an opt out opportunity in their letters.
466
letters were sent to Olive in 2014.

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