A fifth of new CRUK supporters have opted to receive direct mail

Since April last year, the cancer charity has been asking new supporters if they want to opt in to receiving direct mail and telephone communications

CRUK: opt-in-only policy
CRUK: opt-in-only policy

Cancer Research UK’s move to opt-in permission has so far resulted in a fifth of new supporters actively consenting to receive direct mail from the charity, according to Zoe Rowland, CRUK’s senior data compliance manager.

Since April 2016, the charity has been asking its new supporters if they want to opt in to receiving direct mail and telephone communications, having announced the new opt-in-only policy the previous month. Any supporters who re-register their details with the charity have been asked the same question.

Rowland told Third Sector today that in a test carried out over three-month period in 2016, 20,000 new supporters agreed to opt in to direct mail communications out of a total of 100,000 who were asked. She said this had since been monitored on a monthly basis and opt-in rates were still averaging the same level of about 20 per cent.

Before the policy was introduced, CRUK had been able to contact about half of all its supporters by telephone or email because the other 50 per cent had opted out of receiving communications.

Rowland said that less than 10 per cent of new supporters had opted in to telephone fundraising over a three-month period.

Across direct mail and telephone, Rowland said, the opt-in rates were between five and 10 percentage points higher among people who were asked to opt in by a face-to-face fundraiser. She said this was likely to be people had an increased sense of control when someone explained the situation to them in person.

CRUK’s opt-in-only policy is due to start applying to existing supporters as well as new supporters from April, though Rowland said the policy might not come into full effect until 1 July. The charity will this month be sending its first direct-mail campaign since the change policy that asks existing supporters to opt in. It will go to 150,000 of its existing supporters.

Rowland said that, like the RNLI, which officially moved to an opt-in-only system this month, CRUK planned to run a three-part marketing campaign to tell supporters they will need to give explicit consent to receive communications, although not all supporters would be targeted.

"We’re not going to worry about people we have an email opt-in for because we can still talk to them by that channel," said Rowland. "Nor will we worry about getting people to opt in to those products that are not particularly reliant on telephone or post – much of our event fundraising, for example, is done by email. So we’re talking only to people who are active or recent."

Asked how recent a supporter needed to be to be asked to opt in, she said this depended on the fundraising product and maintained "there isn’t a clear cut-off because it will depend on a variety of considerations".

Rowland said the charity was hoping for a higher opt-in rate among existing supporters. "Our hope is that people are happy with what they’re getting and they understand the level of contact because they’ve been getting it for a while," she said, pointing to the fact that, in the RNLI’s case, far more people opted in to communications than the lifeboat charity had expected.

Asked how many supporters CRUK expected to opt in to its communications, she said the charity currently had no estimate.

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