Charity Commission amends guidance on telephone fundraising

The regulator says trustees must ensure such fundraising complies with data protection legislation

Telephone fundraising
Telephone fundraising

The Charity Commission has amended its guidance to say that trustees must ensure that any telephone fundraising carried out by their charity complies with data protection legislation.

The commission said it had amended its guidance to reflect changes made last week to the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice on telephone fundraising.

The IoF announced last week that it had changed the code so that fundraisers could no longer make direct marketing calls to Telephone Preference Service and Corporate TPS-registered numbers except where donors told them this was acceptable.

In section 5.4 of CC20, its guidance relating to charities and fundraising, the commission now says that telephone fundraising is subject to data protection legislation including the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which define the circumstances in which someone must not be contacted by telephone for marketing purposes.

"Trustees must ensure that any telephone fundraising for their charity complies with these requirements," says the updated guidance.

It directs trustees to the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance on direct marketing and the IoF code’s chapter on telephone fundraising to find out more information about the legal requirements.

A spokeswoman for the commission said the regulator would begin consulting the sector’s umbrella bodies in October as to how the whole of CC20 would be updated.

William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, first announced the regulator’s plans to revise and strengthen its fundraising guidance in June.

The IoF made the change to its code after representatives from the Information Commissioner’s Office said earlier this month that fundraisers who called existing donors who had registered with the TPS were in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and could be subject penalties of up to £500,000 in extreme cases.

Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and research at the IoF, who said last week that his organisation was concerned that the rule change could unduly restrict the ability of charities to maintain relationships with their supporters and have a significant knock-on effect on their incomes, told Third Sector today that it made sense that the commission’s guidance for trustees reflected the IoF’s code change.

"They want to make sure that trustees and boards have the correct guidance," he said. He said he did not expect the changes to have any impact on the IoF’s ongoing negotiations with the ICO to produce separate telephone fundraising guidance for charities.

The IoF is working with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the charity chief executives body Acevo and the Charity Finance Group to produce new guidance for trustees and chief executives on managing and governing charity fundraising, which is intended to complement CC20. The bodies have said they are aiming to produce this by the end of the year.

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