Olive's Law

Following the tragic death of Olive Cooke earlier this year and a series of damning articles in the Daily Mail exposing the aggressive nature of some fundraising telemarketing agencies, it was no surprise that on Saturday the Prime Minister announced the end of third sector self regulation. Instead charities will be forced by law to protect the vulnerable from aggressive fundraisers and rogue charities.

Dubbed ‘Olive’s Law’ tough amendments to the Charities Bill, currently going through Parliament, will now require all new contracts between charities and fundraising agencies to state how the vulnerable are protected, the best practice they follow and how the charity will monitor for compliance.

The amendments will also require charities with incomes of more than £1m a year to publish details of their fundraising activities in their annual reports, including their approach to fundraising, their use of professional fundraising agencies and the steps they take to prevent inappropriate fundraising from vulnerable people.

The amendments come at the same time as the FRSB released its latest figures into fundraising complaints. Although there has been a 5% reduction in complaints about direct mail over the past year, the top fundraising channels for complaint remain addressed mail, telephone, doorstep face-to-face and clothing collections. Together, these four methods account for three quarters of all fundraising complaints. Surprisingly chugging received the lowest amount of complaints.

Top 10 fundraising methods by complaint

Method                             Complaints

Addressed mail                  16,520    

Telephone fundraising         8,056    

Doorstep face-to-face         7,618     

Clothing collections             6,974     

Email fundraising                2,522     

Outdoor events                   2,293     

Raffles                               1,428

Private site face-to-face       1,123     

Lotteries                             1,034    

Street face-to-face                 865


With charities and their agencies now coming under the legislative spotlight and HMRC’s changes to charity tax treatment coming into force, best practice and well targeted direct marketing will now be of paramount importance. Charities were once well known for the creativity of their DM campaigns, however more recently they have been undermined by the few that chose large volume over the messaging. Happily, this trend will now be reversed and we’ll see a return of the high quality campaigns that the industry was renowned for.