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Olive Cooke’s data was sold by charities 43 times

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​Leaked FRSB report reveals details on how many times and the frequency Olive Cooke was contacted by charities asking for cash

A newspaper is claiming Olive Cooke, the poppy seller whose suicide sparked the current fundraising crisis, had her details sold on 43 times by charities who used professional data companies.

The Independent has seen a draft report by the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) which, it claims, reveals details how many times and by which charities the 92 year old British Legion volunteer was contacted.

Her death in May led to the current review of fundraising practice across the UK - although her family has since made it known her suicide had nothing to do with being contacted by charities.

All told, 99 organisations had Cooke’s contact details, the paper says, though not all of these made contact.

Some 22 professional data companies held her details which these companies then traded and sold on 43 times on behalf of charity clients.

The large number of firms trading her details explains how Cooke came to be contacted by so many organisations

Of the 1,724 charities the FRSB contacted, 99 said they had Mrs Cooke’s details. It found Cooke was a generous donor, supporting 88 charities in her time.

The large number of firms trading her details explains how Cooke came to be contacted by so many organisations asking her to give to their causes.

Quoting from the report, the Independent states: “Seventy charities reported that Mrs Cooke’s details were secured via 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 data with fellow charities.”

Andrew Hind, chair of the FRSB, is quoted as writing in the report: “Mrs Cooke’s experiences demonstrate the inevitable consequences of a fundraising regime where charities have been able to exchange, and in some cases sell, the personal details of donors to each other… a situation where a donor to a small number of charities can find themselves, after a period of time, receiving mailpacks and phone calls from an ever-growing and uncontrollable number of fundraising charities.”

Tracing data back to 2000, the report says Cooke was contacted via direct mail and phone calls 460 times last year.

The report partly blames the rise on the use of list brokers and charity lists.

The FRSB’s investigation into charity fundraising practices was initiated in May this year after newspaper headlines concerning the death of Olive Cooke prompted complaints about charity fundraising to both the media and the FRSB.

An interim report was published in June, prompting changes to the Institute of Fundraising’s professional standards for fundraisers (the Code of Fundraising Practice).

The full report is expected to be published early next year.

A spokesperson for the FRSB said: "No investigation report has been published at this time."

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