They have only got themselves to blame but charities will now be forced by law to sign agreements to stop aggressive fundraising under amendments to the Charities Bill, after even the head of the industry’s watchdog admitted the sector was out of control.
The changes have been dubbed “Olive’s Law” and follow a huge backlash from the public, media and MPs after the apparent suicide of Britain’s oldest poppy seller, Olive Cooke, from Bristol. Her family claimed she had been “overwhelmed” with direct mail appeals.
Having published its annual report last week, Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) chairman Colin Lloyd admitted: “There is also an urgent need to ensure that public concerns are addressed and that a balance is struck that meets both the interests of the donor and charity beneficiaries.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said that the some of the tactics used by fundraisers were “frankly unacceptable” and damaging to the reputation of the charity sector.
And Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson also waded into the row by demanding that the industry bodies ensure high-pressure recruitment tactics are stamped out for good.
At the time, Wilson, MP for Reading East, said: “I will personally make sure this is thoroughly investigated by the industry bodies and that they take whatever action is necessary to make sure practices such as this are stamped out for good.”
But charity bodies will now no longer get the chance to do this on a self-regulatory basis as legislation requiring third-sector organisations to produce written rules as to how they will safeguard vulnerable people from aggressive fundraising will be added to the Charities Bill. The move already has cross-party support.
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