Macmillan caught in multiple cold calling

Macmillan Cancer Support Logo

of Charity Donors

They still haven’t learnt – this week press stories highlighted how Macmillan, Cancer Research UK and Cancer Support UK “paid investigators for information on … income, value of homes and friendship circles” (Daily Mail).

Charities were fined large sums

but they were all quick to say the fines would be paid by special means, and not come out of donations!

Death of Charitable OAP

investigations seem to have been sparked off by pensioner Olive Cooke’s story in the media;  reports of her suicide highlighted the dreadful way a charitable act can backfire.

She had collected for Poppy Day for nearly three-quarters of a century, but her final years were made miserable by so-called ‘charities’ harassing her for more money.  Finally, made to feel mean because she couldn’t afford more, she took her life.

Her story caught the media’s attention, and then more and more people contacted the media with similar stories of their elderly relatives being hassled by charities. I had a fellow feeling, having been heavily pressured by Macmillan to say, in a video, that I was going to leave them something in my will.

The Daily Mail took up the story, and their investigation into major charities did not make pretty reading for Macmillan;  only ‘consolation’ might be that Macmillan was not alone.

Shame of the charity cold call sharks

The Daily Mail reported “Britain’s biggest charities ruthlessly hounding the vulnerable and elderly for cash, even if they have OPTED OUT of receiving calls

Charity giants have been hounding vulnerable people on a ‘no-call’ list
British Red Cross, Oxfam and Macmillan are exploting loopholes in the TPS,
set up to stop people being hounded at home by cold callers
One call centre supervisor told fundraisers he wanted more ‘ferocity’
Another stressed ‘the whole point’ was simply asking people for money


Macmillan’s Helpine does wonderful work;  I contacted them for comment, but wasn’t reassured to be told:

“Macmillan Cancer Support works with a range of agencies to support our fundraising activities and help raise more money for people affected by cancer. Telephone fundraising is extremely important because not only does it help raise money, but it also provides the public and our supporters with information about Macmillan’s work so that people are aware of the services available to them should they need us.
“However, we do not wish to contact people if we are aware this is unwanted. We take the requests of our supporters very seriously and all supporters can choose to unsubscribe from communications at any time. We would not hesitate to take robust action if we found our agencies were not acting with utmost integrity on our behalf.
“Macmillan is a proud member of the Institute of Fundraising and robustly adheres to its code of practice. We take the claims made by the Daily Mail extremely seriously and are looking into these as a priority.”

Funny – when I was contacted to ask if I would take part in a promotional video for Macmillan, as a cancer survivor, I readily agreed;  until I was ‘talked through’ the process, and emphatically told they would expect me to say I would leave money in my will to Macmillan.  I made it clear that anything I would leave was private, and I would not say anything on these lines.  A week later I was phoned by the producer of the video.   She talked me through the script, then finally at the end of a half-hour conversation, again asked me to confirm that I would say, on camera, that I was leaving money to Macmillan.

I put the phone down – Hard.  And ever after have done what I could to help others with cancer, but am very wary of promoting Macmillan in order to raise money.

So if you are thinking of donating money to a charity, make sure you know where this is going, and what the charity is going to do with your confidential information.  S

Signing up to attend various CRUK, NHS and other events, I have been surprised that when I tick the box saying I want to attend, I receive an email back from a commercial organisation asking me to confirm my details (fair enough) but then I was asked for my Date of Birth!  Now, the only reason why this would be wanted is because my information was going to be sold on – D.O.B had no relevance for ANY of the events.  I complained – strongly! and the D.O.B. line has been removed!

There is a lot of good things that charities do;  that was why they were started in the first place. But if you are volunteering for one of those that have been investigated, best thing to do is to try and help steer the focus back to helping people – not building empires.

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