The Fundraising Regulator has announced its plans for the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS), which will give members of the public greater control over the contact they receive from charities. It is set to be launched in spring/early summer 2017.

The service will enable individuals to select charities that they no longer want to receive any communications from.   This will provide a user-friendly and simple way for the public to manage their contacts with charities. At the same time, charities will be required to increase their compliance by seeking affirmative consent for contact on a regular basis from donors and supporters.

In summary:

1# The opt-out from specified charities will apply to all charities and all forms of communication with a named individual (email, text, telephone and addressed mail).

The FPS will be IT-based but with a telephone service to support those who are vulnerable or without IT.

2# The Regulator will notify specified charities of suppression (those people opting out) and monitor compliance, through a largely automated system.

3# There will be signposting to the Telephone and Mail Preference Services.

4# Accompanying guidance will explain how the public can best manage their contacts with charities.

5# Opt-out will have the statutory force of a Data Protection Act Section 11 notice to cease direct marketing.

Lord Grade, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, said:

“The FPS will help give individuals control of their contacts with charities.  In covering all charities and all forms of communication with a named individual, it will meet the aspirations for the FPS set out in the Cross-Party Review of fundraising practice.

“We will want to focus in particular on the needs of vulnerable donors and the support they require to opt out from unwanted contacts.

“There is a growing realisation in the sector that appropriate consents need to be put in place and that the wish to opt-out must be respected.   We are committed to helping the sector work to the standards expected by the public.

“Once implemented, the FPS will be closely reviewed, including usage, value for money and donor feedback.”

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chair of the Cross-Party Review, and Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said:

“To protect the future of fundraising, it’s crucial we address the concerns of people who feel they or their relatives receive an unmanageable number of requests. The proposed FPS represents an easily achievable way to do this.

“The FPS will also help charities clean their lists and better target their communications, ahead of the implementation of new data rules in the coming years. It is becoming ever more important that charities follow the highest standards in communicating with their donors, including by ensuring they have valid consent for how they are using personal details.

“The FPS will represent the final part of the puzzle of the new regulatory regime. The sector’s action in reforming fundraising regulation and communications will mean that no one can accuse us of not having done everything in our power to reassure the public that we take their concerns seriously and are willing and able to respond.”

The Fundraising Regulator is already in discussion with potential suppliers about the procurement of the database and telephone service through a tendering process.

Sir Stuart Etherington, led a review into the regulation of charity fundraising over the summer of 2015. A key frustration among members of the public identified by this review was the lack of control many feel over how they are approached with fundraising requests and how many times they are approached. The Fundraising Regulator is guided by the principle that it should be as simple as possible for individuals to manage their communications with fundraisers.

In response to concerns, we are developing a system to ensure people can register their contact preferences more easily with charities.

Current ways of managing communication preferences

Members of the public can currently register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the Mail Preference Service (MPS) to make their contact preferences clear to organisations contacting them by phone or by post. However, feedback from the review of fundraising regulation indicated that something over and above these systems is needed to address particular public concerns around fundraising and ensure charities meet the high standards expected of them.

The Fundraising Preference Service will work alongside TPS and MPS so that individuals only get the fundraising communications they want and need.

FPS Development

A working group, headed by George Kidd, chair of the Direct Marketing Commission has been working with regulatory stakeholders, the public and fundraisers since December 2015 to develop a model for the Fundraising Preference Service.

A final paper with detailed proposals for implementation of the Fundraising Preference Service, along with a summary of these proposals, are now available to view and can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The deadline for feedback has passed.

The FPS will be developed for launch sometime in 2017.

Source: Fundraising Regulator website.

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