The BBC (Radio 4) has recently broadcasted the story of an elder lady who has been inundated with letters from charities, and debates on this issue with representatives of various fundraising bodies.

The radio program (28 minutes) was on air on the 6th October 2017, and is this available through this link.

90 year-old Barbara Smith loves donating to good causes, but has discovered some of the UK's biggest charities have bought and sold her name and address. It's meant she's been inundated with letters from charities she's never heard of.

In this programme Barbara, with the help of her Producer, Lydia Thomas, investigates which charities have traded in her personal details, uncovering a web of buying and selling, and asks the charities why they did it.

The charity sector has been under fire from the government about how it raises money. After the death of the poppy seller Olive Cooke, charities were criticised for harassing elderly and vulnerable people, calling people registered on a no calls list, and buying and selling donor's personal details in order to send them unsolicited letters.

Barbara discovers that women of her age are particularly lucrative for charities, and some charities have taken advantage of that generosity.

Smile Train, a charity that admits to sharing Barbara's data with other charities explains to Barbara why they traded her name and address - a practice they have since stopped.

Barbara has donated to Oxfam every month for 30 years; Mark Goldring, the charity's Chief Executive invites Barbara to Oxfam's offices to show her the work the charity does.

Barbara also finds out how the bad news stories about charities, including Oxfam have forced the charity to think about how it fundraises.

Barbara interviews charity regulators who brought in new rules for charities: Paula Sussex from the Charity Commission, and Michael Grade, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator meet with Barbara.

Interviewees

  • Michael Grade, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator
  • Paula Sussex, former Chief Executive of the Charity Commission
  • Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of OxfamSusu Stinton, Trustee, Smile Train
  • Mark Roy, Chairman ReAD Group

Comments from different charities

Civil Society has summarized the reactions of some of the charities that had been criticized in the radio program.

According to Civil Society, the British Red Cross says it has never sold supporters' personal details.
A Red Cross spokeswoman confirmed that “The British Red Cross has never sold the personal details of its supporters and stopped sharing them with other charities in May 2015".

Susu Stinton, trustee of Smile Train was interviewed by Mrs. Smith, and said that while the charity does not share supporter’s personal details anymore.
“It was so widespread, I think you’d actually be harder pushed to find a charity which didn’t share data” between 2010 and 2015, when the practice was banned.

Marie Curie said: "As we said in the programme we have no record of Ms Smith's details. We no longer share data with other charities or third parties.”

Sources:

 

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