In an investigation report published today, the regulator calls on the charity to tighten up the processes it has in place for dealing with suppression requests.
The complainant first contacted the charity in December 2017, asking for communication to be blocked with their relative, who was showing signs of memory loss, but the charity failed to add the person to their suppression list, the report says.
Then, in June 2019, the complainant asked that the person be added to the list again, but although the charity complied with the request it still contacted that person again the following August. In total the person received 15 mailings after the first suppression request was made, the report says.
The regulator says in the report that it accepts human error led to the charity failing to comply with the first suppression request, and it had not been a deliberate attempt to target a vulnerable person. But it adds that the charity had breached the aspects of the code relating to managing data and requests to stop direct marketing.
Jackie Harbor, director of fundraising at Blind Veterans UK, said the charity accepted “full liability” for the error in complaints handling and apologised to all those affected.
“Although this has been recognised as being due to human error, we have still taken action to improve our procedures to best ensure this does not happen again,” she said.
“We have informed the Fundraising Regulator that we have acted to remove those who request it from our marketing activities within 21 days. We will continue to monitor this target to ensure it is met and will also work to improve it in the future.”
She said the charity had also finished developing its vulnerable persons policy according to the principles laid out in the code.
In a separate judgement, also published today, the regulator found that Coping with Cancer North East had not breached the code, but a third-party company employed by the charity to carry out clothing collections had done so.
The regulator found that Unicare Limited had breached the sections of the code dealing with unreasonably persistent fundraising and being respectful when it continued to distribute bags to an address that was on its “no-call” list.
The complainant said they had received 10 bags in as many weeks, despite contacting the agency three times to stop the deliveries, and eventually complained directly to the charity.
The regulator’s report says it recognises the efforts CCNE had made to ensure the agency complied with the code, so the charity had not breached it. But it said the agency’s response to the complaints contained errors and omissions, so it had broken the code’s rules on complaint handling.
Maggie Bailey, who took over as chief executive of CCNE in 2019, said she had quickly become aware “that despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to work with Unicare to the standard we wanted to”.
She said the charity had ended its contract with Unicare last year and would complete its six-month notice period in May.
She said the charity would no longer use collection bags for fundraising.
Third Sector was unable to contact Unicare for comment.