Olive Cooke 'received more than 460 requests for donations last year'

The figure appears in a draft report on the case by the Fundraising Standards Board, according to The Independent

Olive Cooke
Olive Cooke

The Fundraising Standards Board has declined to comment on claims in The Independent newspaper that its draft report into the death of poppy seller Olive Cooke reveals that she received more than 460 requests for charitable donations last year.

Cooke, 92, committed suicide in May after suffering from depression, and several national newspapers blamed her death on the number of requests for donations she had received from different charities - a claim subsequently rejected by her family.

The FRSB launched an investigation within weeks of Cooke’s death and a draft copy of the report, leaked to The Independent, reportedly shows Cooke had received more than 460 requests for donations from charities in 2014.

The paper says the report shows that of the 1,724 charities the FRSB contacted about the case, 99 said they had Cooke’s details, and many had bought them from one of 22 professional databases or another charity, or had swapped them for their own donors’ data.

The draft report is claimed to say: "Seventy charities reported that Mrs Cooke’s details were secured by a third party.

"Of those, 29 sourced her details from a list procured from a fellow charity, 26 from a list broker and 14 by exchanging contact details with fellow charities."

The paper also writes that the report says that Cooke was contacted by more than 70 charities a year in the past five years, compared with 20 in 2000, and blames the rise primarily on the use of list brokers.

Andrew Hind, chair of the FRSB, wrote in the draft report that Cooke’s experiences "demonstrate the inevitable consequences of a fundraising regime where charities have been able to exchange and in some case sell the personal details of donors to each other", the newspaper says.

In response to the article, the FRSB said in a statement: "The FRSB confirms that its investigation into charity fundraising practices and charity communication received by Mrs Olive Cooke is ongoing and that no investigation report has been published at this time.

"The Fundraising Standards Board cannot comment on claims sourced from a draft and incomplete document."

Alistair McLean, FRSB chief executive, denied the claims in the article that the report was due to be published this month but had been delayed until next year.

He told Third Sector: "It’s in the final stages and we hope to publish as soon as possible – we have never set a target time and there has been no delay."

Following the concerns raised over Cooke’s death, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, was appointed by the government to oversee a review of fundraising.

The resulting report, published in September, called for the abolition of the FRSB and the creation of a new fundraising regulator, as well as the creation of a Fundraising Preference Service, through which people could opt out of being contacted by charities. 

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