Fundraising Regulator threatens crackdown on unsolicited charity gifts
Lord Grade, chairman of the Fundraising Regulator, has threatened to ban charities from sending unsolicited gifts.
About 16,000 of 42,000 complaints the regulator received about charities last year were related to direct mail. And more than 80% of these concerned enclosed gifts like pens, badges and Christmas cards.
Lord Grade said his initial scepticism about complaints over free gifts had changed in the face of public concern: “They are saying ‘why are they spending this money, that could go to the charity’ – which actually is a really smart public response. So we are learning from the public.”
The regulator also revealed that charities have switched to using anonymised letters asking for donations to subvert the Fundraising Preference Service hotline, which was set up in July to allow people to get their names and addresses are removed from charity databases.
Stephen Dunmore, the regulator’s chief executive, said: “If it is addressed to an individual then the Fundraising Preference Service will stop it; if it just mail that comes through then there is no one stopping it because the post office has to deliver it.”
The Fundraising Regulator was set up in July 2016 following the death of Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old poppy seller who took her own life after receiving thousands of charity donation requests.
Tory MP David Jones said: “It is a huge issue – people are starting to lose faith in charities which is very, very dangerous because this country has always supported charities.”