Age International signs opt-in fundraising agreement with Information Commissioner's Office

This follows on from a similar agreement with the British Red Cross, and it is understood that a number of other charities have been asked to make such pacts

ICO: contacted Age International last year
ICO: contacted Age International last year

Age International has signed an agreement with the Information Commissioner’s Office to move to an opt-in fundraising model for its telephone fundraising within the next 12 months.

The agreement, which was signed last week by Chris Roles, the managing director of Age International, and Stephen Eckersley, the ICO’s head of enforcement, commits the charity to calling potential donors only if they have specifically opted in to receiving calls in the previous two years.

After this period has passed, the charity will need fresh, informed consent to continue making telephone marketing calls.

The news comes after it emerged earlier this month that the ICO had approached about 15 charities to negotiate agreements with them rather than issuing guidance about donor consent to the sector as a whole. The move has drawn criticism from some fundraising professionals.

The ICO contacted Age International last year as part of its inquiry into whether several large charities and the fundraising agency GoGen had exploited loopholes in the Telephone Preference Service after allegations were made in the Daily Mail newspaper in July 2015.

As part of the investigation, the charity provided the ICO with details of its relationships with call centres, its direct marketing policies and procedures and staff training.

It also confirmed that it did not sell personal data to third-party organisations.

A deal similar to the Age International one was signed by the ICO and the British Red Cross last month. Age International is understood to be one of about 14 other charities that have been asked to sign up to similar agreements.

A spokeswoman for Age International said in a statement: "Age International has signed up to the ICO voluntary agreement on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations in telephone fundraising. This is a voluntary code and one that has additional agreements over and above those required by existing regulation."

She said the ICO had confirmed that the charity had complied fully with telephone fundraising regulation.

The academic Stephen Lee, professor of voluntary sector management at the Cass Business School, wrote in a blog earlier this month that it was inappropriate for the ICO to draw up agreements with individual charities while refusing to provide clarity to the rest of the sector on the consent requirements for telephone fundraising.

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