IoF Statement in response to R4 The Corrections

IoF Statement in response to R4 The Corrections

20 September 2019

In response to the BBC Radio 4 programme, The Corrections titled 'Olive the Poppy Seller'.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said:

We are pleased to see that it’s been recognised that the way that the tragic suicide of Olive Cooke was reported at the time was factually incorrect and insensitive to her family. The way that fundraising was attributed as the cause of her death was subsequently proved wrong through the Coroner’s inquest, but the lasting impression given through the media reports was that charity fundraising was to blame. This was both wrong and damaging reputationally to the sector, as well as having regrettable consequences in the public’s perception of charity fundraising.

However, the fact that the individual story was misrepresented does not mean that the subsequent reviews and reform of charity fundraising regulation that followed were inherently wrong. In fact we believe that fundraising is now of a higher standard as result of both the changes to regulation and to fundraising practices more widely.

The system for the regulation of charity fundraising that existed in 2015 needed improvements. The establishment of the Fundraising Regulator has created a stronger, more independent and more effective body to deal with public complaints about fundraising. The merger between the Institute of Fundraising and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association has led to a continued increase in the standards of public fundraising, as a result of our enhanced mystery shopping and certification programme.

At the same time, we believe the fundraising community itself has responded really positively, putting the supporter even more centrally at the heart of their work, and focussing on inspiring the incredibly generous British public to give to vital causes here and abroad.

So while Olive Cooke, a generous fundraiser and supporter of many causes in her own right,  did not commit suicide because of charity fundraising, perhaps a real legacy of her tragic death is that it sparked important conversations about the values and culture of charity fundraising, leading to better standards of fundraising around the UK. 


This is in response to the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Olive the Poppy Seller' aired on 20th September 2019.