IoF says following its rules will be compulsory and opt-out statements on communications will be standardised

The Institute of Fundraising makes the promies after a meeting of its standards committee yesterday

Direct mail: IoF pronouncement
Direct mail: IoF pronouncement

The Institute of Fundraising has said it will make it compulsory for fundraisers to adhere to all of its rules and that charities will be expected to standardise the statements they use to allow people to opt out from receiving communications.

In a statement issued after a meeting of its standards committee yesterday, the IoF said it would also amend its Code of Fundraising Practice to encourage greater compliance with the Telephone Preference Service. It said its guidelines here would be based on the latest guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The changes were among the recommendations made by the interim report of the Fundraising Standards Board’s investigation into the issues raised after the death of the poppy seller Olive Cooke, which was published on Tuesday.

The standards committee, which sets the code, considered the report at its meeting yesterday and agreed it would make it clear that UK fundraising organisations must comply with the code in its entirety by changing all clauses saying charities "ought" to do certain things to "must" requirements.

It also agreed to introduce standardisation in the presentation and wording of opt-out statements for different fundraising methods.

The committee set up four task groups to look at the following issues: the frequency and volume of approaches to individual donors; how individuals can more simply and easily manage their preferences for the fundraising communications they receive; what standards charities should have to comply with, over and above legal requirements, in relation to the buying, sharing and selling of data; and standards specifically related to telephone fundraising, including the introduction of TPS certification requirements.

Each task group will also consider the needs of vulnerable people in any recommendations it produces. They will report back to the committee within the next six weeks, and the committee will make further decisions on the new code and guidance before the end of July.

Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, attended the meeting as an observer and said the meeting lasted about two hours and was "productive and fruitful".

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said everyone at the meeting was "fully engaged" and all but one committee member attended.

Lewis said in a statement: "I believe the combination of raising the standards of fundraising, alongside our commitment to introduce a new compliance regime, will further strengthen charities’ relationships with their supporters and ensure the very highest levels of accountability and transparency.

"I also want to work with partners and government to reach out to charities that are currently outside the self-regulation system to ensure they embrace best-practice standards by signing up to our code of practice and joining the FRSB."

Stephen Pidgeon, a fundraising consultant and former chair of the IoF standards committee, told Third Sector that the FRSB proposal in its interim report for a limit on the number of approaches fundraisers could make was "completely daft".

As a donor, he said, he would resent any control of or interference in what he was allowed to read, and it would be difficult to implement.

Defending the proposal, McLean said that it was for the IoF standards committee to consult its members and the wider sector to decide how many approaches a year to allow. "There isn’t an infinite number of donors, and donors who are upset by receiving an excessive number of requests won’t donate again, so it’s about getting the balance right."

McLean also noted that 42 per cent of the 384 complaints the FRSB had received since Cooke’s death related to the frequency of fundraising asks.

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