For nearly twenty years individuals have been able to sign up to the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) or the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to prevent unwanted marketing mail or telemarketing calls. But now the public have another service they can use to say ‘No’ to marketing messages from charities.
The new Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) will be run by the Fundraising Regulator, which itself was launched just last year. This followed fierce criticism over how some charities targeted donors, and highly publicised cases of the consequences a lack of governance over these campaigns had – particularly on the elderly or vulnerable members of society. The Fundraising Regulator has already issued stiffer guidelines surrounding charitable fundraising activities.
The FPS will be accessible online to allow people to block post, phone, and email or text communications from named charities. It will also be possible to register on behalf of those who may be elderly, vulnerable or perhaps unable to cope with such communications. A telephone service is also available for those without access to the Internet.
The Fundraising Regulator will ensure charities are notified of those who’ve registered an objection. Stephen Dunmore, the Fundraising Regulator’s Chief Executive says, “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.”
Once an individual has registered an objection via FPS any marketing they have objected to from specified charities must cease within 28 days, or sooner if possible. If the individual then receives direct marketing from a selected charity more than 28 days later, the Fundraising Regulator can be asked to follow-up with the charity in question. Failure to comply could result in the charity being reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which could result in a fine.
There has been some criticism of the decision to introduce the FPS. Some argue its function is already covered by the MPS and TPS. There are also concerns that it unfairly punishes all charities for the behaviour of others. Smaller charities may also be impacted if they are unable to cope with the database changes required to meet the FPS’ new demands.
The information provided and the opinions expressed in this document represent the views of the Data Protection Network. They do not constitute legal advice and cannot be construed as offering comprehensive guidance to the Data Protection Act 1998 or other statutory measures referred to in the document.