Summit is planned on telephone fundraising

Fundraising Standards Board wants to clarify the rules and lobby against tighter regulation for charities

The chair of the Fundraising Standards Board is organising a summit meeting to clarify existing rules on telephone fundraising and plan how to lobby against stronger restrictions in the future.

The move by Colin Lloyd, who is also chair of the Telephone Preference Service, has been prompted by recent evidence that there is confusion about the existing rules and by growing concern about a possible tightening of European Union regulation.

Representatives of the Institute of Fundraising, the Direct Marketing Association, the Federation of European Direct Marketing Associations and the Information Commissioner's Office are expected to attend.

Hugh McCaw, chief executive of fundraising agency Relationship Marketing, said he had pressed Lloyd to call the summit "to provide clarity for the sector on what is legally, professionally and morally acceptable in telephone fundraising practice".

McCaw said he was prompted by years of first-hand experience of charities' confusion and the "furore of conflicting online responses" to the recent Third Sector story about telephone fundraising agency Pell & Bales.

Karl Holweger, the agency's chief executive, told a session of the International Fundraising Congress last month that it was acceptable to make "administrative" calls to charity supporters to check whether an earlier request not to be called was still valid.

He later apologised and said the agency would halt the practice after a statement from the Information Commissioner's Office that it would be against the regulations.

Lloyd said: "If a big organisation like Pell & Bales can misunderstand the rules, it is possible others are also doing so. Fundraisers must be given clear and unambiguous guidance to be able to understand exactly how they can work with the telephone as a fundraising tool."

The summit will also discuss fears that the forthcoming review of the EU Data Protection Directive, which starts in January, could lead to tighter restrictions on telephone fundraising.

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said he wanted to secure an ‘opt-out' system in the directive for the use of personal data by charities.

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