Fundraising Week: Preference service might last only a few years, says chair of working group George Kidd

The man tasked with establishing a Fundraising Preference Service says it might cover only the transition between existing regulation and EU law due to come into force in 2018

George Kidd
George Kidd

The Fundraising Preference Service might have a lifespan of only a few of years, according to the chair of the working group tasked with creating the opt-out service.

George Kidd, chair of the FPS working group, told delegates at Fundraising Week yesterday it was possible the service would be needed only to cover the transition between existing regulation and EU legislation due to come into force in 2018.

Kidd said there was a "fundamental issue" about using the FPS, based on an opt-out model, alongside the General Data Protection Regulation, which will require fundraisers to show recipients of direct marketing have opted in.

He said it was unlikely the two regimes would "travel together for a long period of time".

He said: "In a sense, having a preference service is a transitional product of the world we’re in now, which is not opt-in. So we have to think about whether we use the FPS as a transitional vehicle for getting to the right place."

Kidd said it was "possible, but not certain" that the FPS could be time-limited, or that registration for individuals could be limited to one or two years.

"I would not want the FPS to be bought forward as the one fix," he said.

"It’s something I think we should keep under active consideration because the world will change – but equally we can’t say how."

During the same session, Gerald Oppenheim, head of policy at the Fundraising Regulator, said that under the new regulator charities would be exposed to harsher sanctions than the agencies they employ in cases of fundraising bad practice.

Oppenheim said that, in the case of a complaint about the behaviour of a fundraising agency acting on behalf of a charity, the agency would fall under the Fundraising Regulator’s remit.

But he added: "You’ve also got to think about who’s employing who in this relationship. The charity is employing the agency, so you’d be looking to see what sort of agreement the charity had entered into and how the agency had carried that out."

When asked if charities would shoulder more of the responsibility and face harsher sanctions, Oppenheim said: "Yes, because the charity is the employer and the agency was doing a job for you."

He pointed to Charity Commission guidance CC20, which says trustees must exercise appropriate oversight of the charity’s agreements with external agencies.

But the regulator would be open to having a dialogue with any charity that was dissatisfied by its decision, and an external appeal process would be available, he said.

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