A new "Fundraising Preference Service" should be set up to enable people to opt out from all telephone and mail fundraising, according to Sir Stuart Etherington’s review of fundraising self-regulation.
The review, published today, recommends that a new body, provisionally called the Fundraising Regulator, should be established to oversee fundraising standards and deal with complaints.
This body, the review says, should set up the proposed Fundraising Preference Service, which Etherington said would enable people to "hit the reset button" on communications they receive from charities.
The measure is particularly aimed at helping elderly or vulnerable people and those who might find themselves receiving high volumes of direct mail or large numbers of telephone fundraising calls.
The report says the review received evidence from the public that pointed to "frustrations about the lack of control over whether or not a person is approached for fundraising requests" and a lack of transparency over how their data was acquired in the first place.
"At the moment there is no way to ‘opt-out’ of being approached by fundraisers other than contacting the organisation concerned directly and relying on their goodwill to unsubscribe an individual," the review says.
"It is not right that it is so much easier to get on to a fundraising contact list than it is to get off. A mechanism should exist whereby a person can quickly and easily exempt themselves from being contacted."
The review says a suppression list should be established that fundraisers will have to check against before mounting campaigns.
"This would provide a person with a full opt-out, completely preventing the receipt of unsolicited contact by charities and other fundraising organisations," it says.
The new service is not expected to prevent charities from making administrative calls to donors or contact those who have given explicit consent to receive mail or telephone calls.
But phone calls or mail to existing donors to try to persuade them to increase their donations would not be permitted under the new system.
If anyone on the list is contacted by a charity or a fundraising organisation, that person would be able to complain to the Fundraising Regulator, which would investigate, the review says.
"I understand the public are frustrated when they feel they can’t easily control what they receive from charities," said Etherington. "The new Fundraising Preference Service will mean that the public have a reset button for communications from charities, ensuring they only hear from those they want to."