Preference service received only 16,500 block requests in nine months

Figures from the Fundraising Regulator show that after an initial flurry, the rate of communication suppression requests slowed considerably

The Fundraising Preference Service has received only 16,557 requests to block charity communications in its first nine months, with more than 6,000 of those coming in the first four weeks.

Figures released by the Fundraising Regulator, which runs the service, reveal that between its launch on 6 July 2017 and 31 March 2018, 6,806 people used the scheme, which allows people to stop certain charities from sending them communications by phone, text, email or post.

Of the suppression requests made, 4,483 were made on behalf of other people.

In the service’s first month, it received 6,305 requests to block communications by charities from 2,617 people, a rate of 203.4 a day.

But in the following eight months the rate slowed considerably, with 10,252 requests made by 4,189 people, an average of 43.3 requests per day.

The FPS was set up after Sir Stuart Etherington’s review of fundraising self-regulation, which recommended that the public be offered a "reset button" on communications they received from charities.

Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and external affairs at the Institute of Fundraising, said the relatively low sign-up numbers were a positive sign for charity fundraisers.

"The fact that it’s been only this many people is a good thing," he said. "People aren’t feeling in the main that they need to use the service because they’re getting a good experience from charities.

"I don’t think there’s a feeling that the FPS needs to have X amount of people signed up to it to be a success, and we certainly never thought it was a numbers game.

"If there are 6,800 people who really don’t want to receive communications, the fact that they can be reassured that they can stop those communications is a good thing."

Gerald Oppenheim, head of policy and communications at the Fundraising Regulator, said there was often an increase in the use of the service shortly after adverts to raise awareness had been placed in magazines.

"We’re pleased with the uptake," he said. "And particularly pleased that close on a quarter of suppressions are on behalf of others. Arguably, if FPS did nothing else it would be to protect the interests of those who are vulnerable and ought to be protected."

Oppenheim said he was also pleased with the way charities had responded to the service.

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