Fundraising preference service should be selective, says Elizabeth Chamberlain

It must also offer people a simple opt-out from all fundraising communications, writes the NCVO policy manager

Elizabeth Chamberlain
Elizabeth Chamberlain

The new Fundraising Preference Service should allow the public to remain opted-in to receiving communications from selected charities, according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Elizabeth Chamberlain, policy manager at the NCVO, published a blog this afternoon detailing the terms of reference for the working group on the FPS and the names of the people who will be on it.

In the clearest indication to date as to what form the new service will take, Chamberlain re-stated that the FPS must include a "simple option" allowing people to completely opt out of fundraising communications from charities - but added that it "should also provide people with the option to remain opted-in to communications from certain organisations."

She said seven people had been appointed to the working group, including Stephen Lee, former director of the Institute of Fundraising, and Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support. Only one of the seven individuals appears to come from a consumer rather than a charitable or fundraising organisation: Ruth Thompson, deputy chair of the consumer watchdog London Travel Watch.

The other five members are: Catherine Cottrell, deputy executive director of fundraising at Unicef; Geoff Beck, group risk and compliance manager and data protection officer at Help for Heroes; Pauline Broomhead, chief executive of the Foundation for Social Improvement; and John Mitchison, head of preference services, compliance and legal at the Direct Marketing Association.

Lee, a visiting professor of voluntary sector management at Cass Business School, was critical of fundraising practices in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme in 2014 and has called for reforms to regulation. Thomas was the director of fundraising at Macmillan before becoming its chief executive in November last year.

Macmillan is one of several charities being investigated by the Fundraising Standards Board and the Information Commissioner’s Office following allegations of data and privacy breaches by the Daily Mail this summer.

Chamberlain said in her blog that NCVO had been "overwhelmed" by requests from fundraisers, regulatory experts, data experts and marketing professionals to take part in the group.

She wrote that the group plans in the coming months to hold a series of roundtables with charities of all sizes and several consumer focus groups, as well as hosting evidence sessions with representative bodies.

It will launch an online survey in the new year to establish the sector’s views on the possible ways the FPS could operate, but anyone who wishes to send their comments in the meantime can email George Kidd, chair of the working group:

The NCVOm will be the secretariat of the group.

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