Peter Lewis sets out Institute of Fundraising response to Olive Cooke case in letter to minister

Writing to Rob Wilson, the IoF chief executive says some of the recent adverse public opinion has arisen as a result of poor practice not in compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice

Peter Lewis
Peter Lewis

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, has written to Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, explaining what action the IoF is taking in response to the outcry over the death of Olive Cooke.

Lewis and his counterparts at the Fundraising Standards Board and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association met Wilson earlier this month to discuss the action the three fundraising self-regulatory bodies were taking in response to the issues raised after Cooke’s death last month.

Lewis’s letter, published on the IoF website, acknowledges that "some of the recent adverse public opinion has arisen as a result of poor practice not in compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice".

He says the IoF board will make a decision on charities’ observance of "no cold-calling" stickers by the end of this month and will make a decision by the end of September on standard wording that would enable people to say they do not wish their data to be shared with other charities.

Lewis says he expects a decision "very quickly" on the issue of charities circumventing the Telephone Preference Service by using call centres based overseas, once legal advice has been obtained.

"We are currently seeking legal advice on the application of TPS requirements to companies not based in the UK to inform how the code can ensure that all fundraising organisations follow TPS requirements regardless of the jurisdiction in which they are based," he writes.

His letter says that one task group set up to consider the issues raised by the case is looking at the idea of a common list for the removal of personal details from contact lists.

Lewis tells Wilson that this is an "inherently complex project and one that, if feasible, would take time and expense to set up".

He says that a group will be considering the possible introduction of a cooling-off period before donors are contacted to ask for another or an increased donation. He says this group will look at the frequency that donors are contacted and consider the wider issue of "persuasion and pressure".

He adds: "We completely agreed that the respect of the donor is central to every area that is being reviewed and each task group will fully consider the needs of vulnerable people.

"We will also be commissioning research to get robust evidence on the public’s views on the range of issues being considered in order to ensure that the views of those outside the fundraising community are brought into the review process."

Cooke’s body was found last month in the Avon Gorge in Bristol, leading to claims in some national newspapers that she had been "hounded to death" by charity fundraisers. Her family said this was not the case.

An inquest into her death was opened last month and adjourned until 16 July.

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