The Fundraising Preference Service launched on 6 July 2017

The Fundraising Regulator’s Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) provides a single route by which individuals can ask to stop receiving direct marketing emails, telephone calls, addressed post and/or text messages from selected charities. The purpose of the FPS is to give members of the public greater control over the communications they receive from charities, although the Fundraising Regulator encourages the public to continue to direct their stop requests to charities in the first instance. Indeed, the need for the FPS has been questioned in a number of quarters on the basis that mechanisms already exist which enable individuals to opt out of marketing communications from charities (including the TPS, MPS and statutory right to opt out of direct marketing under the Data Protection Act 1998).

Charities, Public

Requests to stop marketing communications via the FPS can be made by entering relevant details on the FPS website, although there will also be a phone line available aimed at those without access to a computer or who need help to complete the form.  This seems sensible given that some of the concerns about direct marketing by charities arose from its potential effects on older and more vulnerable people.

The original proposals for the FPS envisaged the introduction of a ‘big red button’, whereby an individual could ask to stop receiving communications from all charities. However, to the relief of many in the sector the Fundraising Regulator opted to proceed with a more practical solution of requiring FPS users to specify the name or registered number of the charity or charities which they no longer want to hear from, and only three charities can be identified in any one online request.  When an FPS request is received an automatic email will be sent to the charity in question asking for the individual’s details to be removed from direct mailing lists within 28 days.

Charities which spend over £100,000 on public fundraising per year are required to register with the FPS. Charities which spend less than this will only be set up on the FPS if and when they receive an FPS request from a member of the public – these charities should ensure that their contact details as registered with the Charity Commission are kept up to date so that the Fundraising Regulator can contact them in such circumstances. Notably, the FPS does not apply to door-to-door fundraising, street fundraising or post which is addressed to a ‘householder’.  This may lead to frustration among some users that the FPS does not extend to what many view as the most intrusive form of marketing. Therefore charities may, in some cases, consider whether they should review other fundraising approaches that they make to those who have registered an opt out via the FPS (even where those approaches are not covered by FPS registration). 

Failure to comply with requests to stop marketing communications from the FPS is likely to lead to complaints to the Fundraising Regulator, and will also be treated as a breach of the DPA.  In the wake of the recent fines by the Information Commissioner for certain fundraising practices, charities will be keen to avoid further negative attention in this area. Charities should take steps to ensure that they are ready to deal with FPS requests to stop direct marketing communications. 

The Fundraising Regulator has published an FAQ’s page for charities and an article suggesting that small charities have nothing to fear from the FPS. It has also made changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice to account for the existence of the FPS, a list of which can be found here.

For any questions regarding the content of this article, or about the FPS in general, please contact Alistair Williams

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of July 5, 2017.