The Fundraising Preference Service, designed to enable individuals to block direct marketing communications from named charities, went live this morning.
The service was made available on the first anniversary of the Fundraising Regulator, which is managing the service.
FPS available online and by phone
The service can be used by members of the public to block communications from a charity, either in their entirety or by specific communications channels, whether post, phone, email or text. They can access the service by phone (0300 3033 517) and online.
Individuals will also be able to use the service on behalf of a friend or relative.
The users’ requests concerning receiving communications are passed from the Fundraising Regulator to the relevant charity or charities.
Individuals can choose to stop or limit communications from up to three charities at a time. The original proposals for a blanket, sector-wide ‘Big Red Button‘ approach enabling opting out from receiving communications from every single charity, were amended following charity sector feedback.
The service was proposed as part of the Etherington Committee’s investigation into fundraising self-regulation in the summer of 2015. The subsequent consultation garnered over 100 responses, providing feedback on the proposed system’s practicality for the public and value for money for charities.
The then Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP recently claimed via Twiter that he had “insisted” on the introduction of a fundraising preference service, although Sir Stuart Etherington has denied that the idea came from the minister or was the subject of political lobbying.
So pleased I appointed Lord Grade & insisted on a Fundraising Preference Service. It will improve trust in charities. pic.twitter.com/31h1aCb5xG
— Rob Wilson (@RobWilson_RDG) July 3, 2017
Stephen Dunmore, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “The FPS will give individuals unprecedented control of their contact with charities and will enable members of the public to manage their consent. This service is crucial in an age when individuals can be contacted in far more ways, and with far more regularity, than ever before.
“The FPS will help further rebuild trust between members of the public and the charity sector. However it is not a silver bullet, progress is being made in how charities go about their fundraising, yet there is still much to be done.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, added:
“The setup of the Fundraising Regulator and the FPS show that charities have taken concerns about fundraising seriously and worked together to turn things round.
“The Fundraising Preference Service is about doing the right thing. It’s only fair that if we’re asking the public to support us, we also respect their wishes when they don’t want to hear from us anymore.”
The system will undergo a full, formal review once it has been operational for 12-18 months.
One year of the Fundraising Regulator
As the launch of the Fundraising Preference Service the Fundraising Regulator presented its annual review, highlighting its activities over the past year.
- Receiving over £1.5 million from the sector to enable its set-up and to perform its regulatory activities
- Handling 713 complaints, issued eight decisions following investigations and published one adjudication, an investigation into Neet Feet
- Undertaking an in-depth development of the Code of Fundraising Practice
- Raising awareness of the Regulator and its role across the sector and wider society, through speaking at over 100 events, managing over 1,000 enquiries from the public and the sector, and creating “a strong online presence”
- Building positive working relationships with the Charity Commission, Institute of Fundraising (IOF), Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The Regulator covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a lead regulator system in Scotland. The Code of Fundraising Practice applies UK-wide.
Charles Byrne, Director General of the Royal British Legion said:
“The Royal British Legion supports the Fundraising Regulator and its efforts to develop the Fundraising Preference Service as a means of rebuilding trust between charities and the public. The Legion is committed to upholding fundraising best practice and being as transparent as possible with our donors. We look forward to working closely with the Fundraising Regulator to implement these positive changes that will provide the public with greater confidence about the way in which charities communicate with them.”
Funding the Regulator
The annual review noted that, as of 31 March 2017, 1,100 charities had paid the levy for the Regulator’s running costs. This means about 500 charities have not yet made their voluntary contribution.
The shortfall was the subject of a recent allegation that the Fundraising Regulator was “running on reserves“, although the Regulator denied this.
The payment is requested from all UK-registered charities that spend over £100,000 each year on fundraising activities.
A further 700+ charities who fall outside of the levy have voluntarily registered with the Regulator.
Lord Grade, Chairman of the Fundraising Regulator said:
“The past year has been a highly successful, albeit busy, one. We are handling a large number of complaints, many of which are being settled through the Regulator working as a go-between between individuals and charities. The development of the Code of Fundraising Practice is essential and ensures that we have a modern, relevant Code for charities to operate to.
“We are grateful to all charities who have played a role in supporting us by assisting with our set-up and by paying the levy. This is a commitment to an ethical, regulated sector and good progress is being made. However, I would urge those who have not paid the levy to do so as soon as possible.”
How to use the FPS
The FPS website allows a member of the public to enter a charity’s name or Charity Commission number it wishes to stop communication with. They must then choose the communication methods (post, text, phone, email) they wish to end and enter their contact details before submitting the request. The named charity will then receive notification of the suppression request and be invited to view it on the FPS portal. Up to three charities can be reported in one request.
If an individual continues to receive direct marketing communications from a selected charity more than 28 days after submitting an FPS request, the Fundraising Regulator can be instructed to contact the charity. If communications continue to be received, the individual can make a complaint to the Fundraising Regulator.
Where the Fundraising Regulator has been instructed, it may make a Section 11 request to the named charity on the individual’s behalf in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Those failing to comply may be referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
WATCH: The launch of the Fundraising Preference Service
The Fundraising Preference Service was launched on 6 July at the Fundraising Regulator’s first anniversary event at Church House in Westminster, London.
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