FPS to allow people to block marketing from specific charities

According to the Fundraising Regulator's response to the Fundraising Preference Service working group, people will be given the option to block all fundraising communications or to specify the charities they don't want to hear from

Communications: regulator makes its views known
Communications: regulator makes its views known

People who sign up to the Fundraising Preference Service will be given the option to block all fundraising communications or to specify the charities they do not wish to hear from, the Fundraising Regulator has announced.

In its response to the FPS working group’s recommendations, which were considered at the regulator’s board meeting last month, the regulator says the service will feature a "large red button" for those who want to stop receiving all fundraising communications and a "small red button" for those who wish to prevent a named charity or charities from contacting them.

Gerald Oppenheim, head of policy at the Fundraising Regulator, first revealed the concept of having both large and small resets at a conference last month but this is the first time it has been confirmed that people will be able to specify the organisations they block.

The regulator’s response, which will be published at 10am today, says that people who register to use the large reset button will be told before they do this that the Disasters Emergency Committee and its member charities as well as some schools and higher education institutions will be affected.

The move appears to be a concession to such organisations after the DEC wrote to Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, last November, expressing concerns about the effect of the FPS on emergency appeals, and the Russell Group, the umbrella body for 24 leading universities, called for universities to be exempt from the service in its response to the FPS working group’s consultation earlier this year.

The response says that the FPS will apply to addressed mail, landline and mobile phones, email and texts. This differs from comments made by Oppenheim last month that it would apply only to direct mail and telephone fundraising.

It says that the file containing the names of FPS registrants will be available to validated fundraisers from registered charities or other approved entities, but will not be shared directly with intermediaries subcontracted by charities.

The regulator is forecasting that the first-year costs of setting up and delivering the FPS will be about £750,000, the response says. It says this includes about £250,000 on "one-off discovery, design, build and test work".

The amounts are an increase on the £200,000 the regulator was forecasting in its budget to 2017 for the service’s initial set-up, research, promotion and running costs.

The response says the service could be operational within six months and it will be explored whether it is possible to establish a contractual relationship for running it with the Direct Marketing Association and the lead contractor already delivering the Telephone Preference Service and the Mailing Preference Service.

It says it would take another four to six months to set up the FPS if the regulator were to launch a tender process to find a partner to run it.

The response also confirms several points reported by Third Sector last month: that it should apply only to organisations that spend £100,000 or more a year on fundraising; that the ability to register a "vulnerable" person will be limited to people with a power of attorney or equivalent; and that the FPS should signpost to the TPS and MPS if an individual has concerns specifically about nuisance calls or junk mail.

Feedback on these final proposals should be emailed to FPS@fundraisingregulator.org.uk by 30 September.

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