FRSB upholds complaint against Dogs Trust

NTT Fundraising, operating on behalf of the animal welfare charity, called someone who was registered with the Telephone Preference Service

The Fundraising Standards Board has upheld a complaint about a fundraising call made on behalf of Dogs Trust to someone who was registered with Telephone Preference Service.

The call was made by the telephone agency NTT Fundraising, which had obtained the complainant’s details from a third-party data supplier, according to an FRSB adjudication report published today.

The report says that in July 2015, the complainant received a call from the data supplier, which is not named in the report but is not an FRSB member, to conduct a lifestyle survey that would generate marketing leads for a number of organisations including NTT and Dogs Trust.

The third-party supplier believed it could contact the complainant, who was registered with the TPS, because it had contacted him for a survey in 2011 during which he had allegedly given his consent to receive further contact, the report says.

During the 2015 call, the complainant was asked if he would be prepared for his contact details to be shared with third parties that would contact them by phone and email, according to the report. He indicated he would be willing for his details to be shared.

The adjudication says that at the end of the call the complainant was provided with a list of organisations that would receive his details and which was read out automatically without the opportunity to opt out of being contacted by specific organisations.

On 1 September, NTT called the complainant on behalf of Dogs Trust, which he objected to because he did not recall giving his consent to receive the call.

The adjudication, made by the FRSB board at the third and final stage of the FRSB’s complaints process, ruled Dogs Trust, NTT and the third-party supplier had broken section 8.2.3(b) of the Code of Fundraising Practice, which says organisations must not make direct marketing calls to TPS registered numbers unless the person who registered the number has notified the organisation they are happy to receive calls for the time being. 

It also concluded that Dogs Trust did not have sufficient oversight into the marketing leads that were being secured in its name for the campaign that NTT was conducting on its behalf.

The FRSB said it had referred the complainant’s case to the Information Commissioner’s Office to establish whether there had been any breaches of the Data Protection Act or the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations.

But the FRSB ruled that the code had not been breached in three further areas, including how the complainant’s information might be used.

The FRSB said the case showed the need for charities to review the content of lifestyle marketing survey scripts in which the charity’s name is used to ensure the recipients of those calls are giving informed and specific consent to hear from them.

Its adjudication says Dogs Trust has promised to no longer make fundraising calls to contacts secured through lifestyle marketing surveys unless the person has given consent in response to a question specifically naming the charity.

Andrew Hind, chair of the FRSB, said: "It is essential that organisations secure appropriate levels of consent for any charity fundraising calls, particularly when it comes to contacting people registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

"Charities working with third parties must do all they can to ensure that those third parties comply with the code and secure the necessary permissions for any fundraising calls that will be carried out in the charity’s name."

A Dogs Trust spokeswoman said: "This is was an isolated case but one we take very seriously and measures have already been put in place to ensure we not only continue to meet donor expectations, but also comply with all best-practice guidance notes as they are published.

"The extremely low level of complaints that we receive demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of activity we undertake meets with our wonderful supporters’ expectations."

NTT Fundraising said in a statement: "The regulatory environment in which we work has shifted significantly since this occurred in July 2015; as such this individual case was regarded by the data sector to be within legal definitions as provided to them at that time.

"However, it did sit outside NTT Fundraising’s best practice guidelines and we stopped working with the data supplier for this reason."

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