On 6 July 2017, the Fundraising Regulator launched the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). The FPS is an industry led self-regulation initiative, which comes following a cross-party review into the self-regulation of charity fundraising in the summer of 2015. The review recommended the establishment of a service for members of the public to control the nature and frequency of direct marketing approaches, including fundraising communications.
The FPS enables members of the public to set out their wishes regarding fundraising contact by identifying methods of contact which they do not wish to receive, or charities from whom they do not wish to be contacted. They do this by setting up their own preferences on the charity preference service site, which allows them to add any charities or charity sectors they do not want to hear from and opt out of particular communications.
The service is intended to rebuild public trust in charities, ensure their fundraising and communications are respectful and they are accountable to the public. As well as setting up their own preferences, individuals can report vulnerable persons to support those who struggle to manage their charity communications.
The FPS only operates in relation to charities registered in England with the Fundraising Regulator – which is not compulsory. The FPS does not apply to Scottish charities which perform fundraising in England.
However, if a charity is registered in England with the Fundraising Regulator and it fundraises in Scotland, it will still have to comply with FPS. This means people living in Scotland can register their fundraising preferences in relation to certain English charities.
What are the rules on charity marketing in Scotland?
While no FPS service exists in Scotland, Scottish charities must still comply with the underlying rules on marketing in data protection and privacy legislation, the Data Protection Act 1998 (soon to be replaced by the UK Data Protection Bill implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (soon to be replaced by the Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications 2017/003) which apply throughout the UK.
Charities who do not comply with the FPS can be reported to the Information Commissioner's Office and may be subject to fines or other enforcement action if the charity is found to have breached data protection and privacy legislation.
In April 2017, 11 charities were issued fines for misuse of individuals' personal data in relation to fundraising.
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If you’d like to find out more about the regulations which apply to fundraising marketing, and how they affect your organisation, please get in touch.