The Fundraising Preference Service has begun operating today.
The FPS, which will enable people to block post, phone, email or text communications from named charities, was officially launched at an event this morning marking the first anniversary of the Fundraising Regulator, which will run the service.
The FPS was one of the recommendations in Sir Stuart Etherington’s review of fundraising self-regulation, although the final version has been watered down from the "big red button" initially mooted, which would have enabled people to block contact from all charities in one go.
A statement from the Fundraising Regulator today says that people who use the FPS website will be asked to enter the charity’s name or charity number before choosing the communication methods they want to stop.
They must then enter their contact details before submitting the request, which will cause a notification to be sent to the charity in question. People will be able to block up to three charities in one request.
The regulator’s statement says that if people continue to receive direct marketing communications from the blocked charity more than 28 days after filing the FPS request, they can ask the regulator to contact the charity.
If they still continue to receive communications, they can make a complaint to the regulator, which could lead to the charity being referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office under the Data Protection Act 1998.
The ICO has the power to fine organisations for the misuse of data and has levied penalties of up to £25,000 on 13 charities for offences including secret wealth screening and sharing of donors’ data with other organisations without appropriate consent.
The FPS is due to be reviewed once it has been operational for between 12 and 18 months, according to the regulator.
Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: "The FPS will help further rebuild trust between members of the public and the charity sector. However, it is not a silver bullet. Progress is being made in how charities go about their fundraising, yet there is still much to be done."
Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said the launch of the FPS was an important milestone. "Charities and voluntary organisations do an incredible job for good causes across the country and this service will help them continue to fundraise responsibly, while protecting people from receiving unwanted requests," she said.