The Fundraising Regulator has expressed disappointment after being told that Scottish charities are being discouraged from using the Fundraising Preference Service when it is launched early next year.
The newly convened Fundraising Implementation Group, set up to develop a set of standards for fundraising in Scotland and chaired by Valerie Surgenor, a partner specialising in charities at the law firm MacRoberts, announced yesterday that it was telling Scottish charities they would not be required to screen their call lists against the FPS because it was not convinced it offered the public any more protection than existing laws.
A spokesman for the regulator said the body acknowledged it was Scotland’s prerogative to make the decision but it was disappointed that Scottish donors would not have the same opportunity to express their fundraising preferences as those in England and Wales.
It had previously been announced in June, in a report published by the Scottish Fundraising Working Group after a consultation, that Scotland should be regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves rather than by the Fundraising Regulator, which is based in London.
Announcing the latest decision, Judith Turbyne, head of engagement at the OSCR, said in a statement: "Looking at the evidence and consulting with key partners, the Fundraising Implementation Group has not found sufficient evidence to suggest that the new system would offer anything over the current legal requirements.
"If the aim of the new system is to improve fundraising practice, then what is extremely important is that charities fully understand their current legal obligations, that they have the processes in place to make sure they are fulfilling these obligations and that they are ready for the new data protection legislation, which will likely be coming in before the departure of the UK from the European Union."
Surgenor cited the June report, which said charities were unconvinced that the FPS should be adopted in Scotland because they did not believe it offered anything more than the existing Telephone Preference Service and Mailing Preference Service.
She said there was nothing to prevent the Scottish public signing up to the FPS should they wish to do so, but only charities from England and Wales and UK-wide charities regulated mainly by the Charity Commission would abide by it.
Commenting on the decision, a spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said: "The decision about whether Scottish charities are covered by the Fundraising Preference Service is one for Scotland to make.
"We acknowledge the decision made in Scotland but are disappointed that Scottish donors will not have the same opportunity to express their preferences as those in England and Wales."
John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which convened the Fundraising Working Group last December, said that, together with the OSCR, the umbrella body would be working with the Information Commissioner’s Office in Scotland to look at the best ways of preparing the sector for the General Data Protection Regulation, which will apply from May 2018.