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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Cancer Research UK to move to opt in communications from July

This news post is about 5 years old

1 July announced as cut-off date when charity will only contact people who have gave it permission to do so

Cancer Research UK will only contact people who have given it unambiguous and explicit permission to do so as of 1 July.

The charity announced its intention to become an ‘opt in’ charity in March last year and is currently working to encourage existing and new supporters to state that they agree to receive marketing activity, including requests for donations.

Announcing the 1 July deadline date for signing up supporters’ permission the charity’s director of individual giving admitted he expects in the short term it will mean raising less money.

“The move for us to become an opt in charity was driven by our desire to provide the best possible supporter experience,” Graham White said.

“Our supporters are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s really important that they understand what they’re opting in to, and actively choose to hear from us about all the things we are doing, the events we are running, our fundraising activities and how they can be involved.

“Whilst we are very aware that we may lose touch with some of our supporters through this change, which we know will affect our fundraising income in the short term, we believe putting our supporters first will help us protect the future income of Cancer Research UK and safeguard our ambition to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

Cancer Research UK is one of the first major charities to move completely to an opt in approach to fundraising.

The method came to the fore following criticism the sector faced over fundraising tactics, mainly in tabloid newspapers south of the border, which escalated in 2015 when 92-year-old poppy seller Olive Cooke took her own life.

At the time it was claimed charities who had received her contact details through third parties were partly to blame for her death as she had become fed up of being pestered for donations.

Her family said the requests - said to be in their thousands per year - were intrusive but were not responsible for her death.

The allegations however partly led to a new Fundraising Regulator being launched in England and Wales replacing the Fundraising Standards Board.

The RNLI was the first to move to an opt in model, announcing back in October 2015 it would roll out the approach as of 1 January 2017 but did so predicting loses of over £36m in the five year period immediately after.

However a £3m campaign meant almost double the amount of supporters it expected to sign up did so.

Cancer Research UK has launched its own campaign to encourage people to sign up and is running high profile adverts across different media.

White added: “The charity has launched a marketing campaign with the strapline ‘Your Tick Beats Cancer Sooner’, to highlight the simplicity of opting in to hear the charity’s fundraising activity and how important it is to its life-saving work.

“The campaign will include press adverts, social media, YouTube advertising and PR.”

To opt in to hear from Cancer Research UK, visit



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