Charities will be banned from selling any individual’s personal data to a third party, following a review of the Code of Fundraising Practice. This is one of a number of measures announced by the Institute of Fundraising in response to the FRSB Interim Report following media and government criticism after the death of charity volunteer and donor Mrs Olive Cooke.
The Institute of Fundraising announced the changes as part of its efforts to raise further the standards required of fundraisers in the UK, in particular to protect vulnerable donors. It aimed to help put donors back in control of their relationship with charities, not least by making it clear to fundraisers that members of the public must never be put under undue pressure to give.
The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) published its interim findings in June 2015. Some of these recommendations were accepted immediately by the Institute’s Standards Committee at its meeting in June.
The changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice come just over a week after a public commitment from a number of charity chief executives to a stronger Code to guide how charities contact people and ask for donations.
Donors in control
Measures announced include:
• Every addressed fundraising communication will be required to carry a clear message explaining how donors can easily ‘opt-out’ of receiving future communications
• Minimum font sizes will be introduced for opt-in and opt-out statements on all printed communication (including newspaper adverts)
• Charities will be banned from selling any individual’s data to a third party
• Charities will only be able to share an individual’s data with third parties for fundraising communications if that individual has ‘opted in’ and provided express consent
• A new clear requirement will be introduced to ensure fundraisers end a telephone call when asked
• All fundraising calls from agencies and call centres will have to be made from an identifiable number
• The current grey area around ‘reasonable persuasion’ in the Code will be replaced with a clear requirement prohibiting intrusive or persistent behaviour that places undue pressure on a person to donate.
One recommendation not accepted
Only one of the FRSB’s recommendations was not accepted. This was that:
“Specifically on the subject of frequency of contact, the Board recommends that the IoF amend the Code to specify the maximum amount of times that a charity can contact an individual per year”.
The Institute concluded that all the recommendations in its report would “make it easier for every individual to manage the amount of fundraising communications they receive. The impact of these changes will enable a donor to reduce the contact that they have from a charity if that is what they want”.
Consequently these would achieve the aim of the FRSB’s recommendation.
“Open, honest and respectful”
Peter Lewis, IoF Chief Executive, said of the new changes to the Code:
“Our Code is underpinned by the values of being open, honest and respectful. The events of recent months highlighted that in too many cases fundraising practice in the UK was not aligned either with public expectations or the values underpinning our Code. That is why we are introducing stronger requirements and are requiring all charities to review and amend their fundraising materials”.
The new changes follow the work of four task-groups set up in June by the Institute of Fundraising’s Standards Committee to review the recommendations of the FRSB.
These task groups reported to the Standards Committee and Board, where the changes were agreed. All recommendations agreed by Standards Committee are now being reviewed by lawyers before being implemented as full Code changes over the next few weeks.
Tanya Steele, Chair of Standards Committee, said:
“It is clear from the poor practices highlighted by the media and the increased number of complaints to the FRSB as a result, that the public feels that we have not had the right rules in place to govern fundraising. These changes, in response to the areas where the public have demonstrated most concern, are part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen the Codes and give fundraisers clear and unequivocal guidance.”
You can read a full list of Code changes and responses to the FRSB Interim Report on Charity Fundraising on the IoF website.
The IoF has shared these decisions with the FRSB. It expects “to work with them to agree appropriate implementation periods for Code changes ‘going live’ and any transition periods that are needed for charities to comply”.
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