The Fundraising Preference Service Proposal – Graham-Pelton’s Response

The Proposals for a ‘Fundraising Preference Service’ discussion paper was released on 2nd March with the aim of engaging fundraising professionals in a conversation with the working group.

The document is great news. It’s relatively short and clear, and it soon becomes apparent that the sector’s concerns have already been listened to and we’re being asked for further feedback.  Everyone wants to know what the recommendations are so far, so here we go:

  • Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) should only apply to fundraising communications that contain an ask, i.e., a request for money. Everything else – from thanking, stewardship, and administrative purposes – is exempt.  However, if you include an ask, it will apply.
  • It will apply to communications by mail, email, phone, and mobile for named individuals (not households). Face-to-face and door-to-door fundraising is exempt.
  • FPS is a reset option to end all fundraising communications, but users can pick charities they still wish to hear from.
  • Following good data handling advice, the Fundraising Regulator must keep the quality of the data under review and should provide users with the ability to update their preferences and contact details.
  • Charities with an income below £1 million should not be required to check their fundraising campaigns against the FPS.
  • Family members with a duty of care should be able to register someone with the FPS if they believe the person is vulnerable or can’t manage fundraising preferences themselves.

Yes, you did read point 5 correctly. It is suggested that FPS does not apply to smaller charities. Whether this is just philanthropic income or includes income from other sources is not yet clear and will become a discussion point.  This point may also be challenged by the larger charities who may see this as unfair.  It is therefore likely that the exact figure of income will be debated fully if this point is actually implemented. Even if this is implemented as is, it will probably be good for smaller charities to adopt FPS voluntarily for it to be seen favourably by the general public.

Let’s go through the other points in order.  Point 1 was always the main objective of the FPS, but it is good to see that it has been recognised that a charity does not and should not only send out asks.  Hopefully this will encourage charities to become more active on reporting its activities and letting donors know what it has achieved with its donations.  But it does beg the question about what happens to universities sending out a donation form with their alumni magazine.  The magazine is now technically an ask and thus has to be screened against FPS.

Point 2 makes sense, but is potentially open to misuse.  Won’t this just open up generic mailings to households instead?  It will be interesting to see how this point goes down with the media and the general public.  They might think that nothing has really changed, especially when applied in conjunction with point 5, as smaller charities could carry on as before and the larger ones will simply mail to the homeowner.  I suspect this point will be debated further in great detail.

Point 3 is welcome as it partially answers the question of what happens when a donor to your charity registers with FPS because they are annoyed with another charity.  That is, unless they forget to tell the FPS that they do still want to hear from your charity.  Maybe it would be better if the user could specify to opt out of all charity mailings or list those that it doesn’t want to hear from?  And what happens if you are a new charity?

As a data professional, it is also good to hear that the intention is for the FPS list to be actively managed (point 4) and that users should be reminded to check and update their details.  The exact mechanics and cost of such management are not clear, and one wonders if this has been fully thought through.  Hopefully it has and this is a workable solution.

As with point 1, the last point should also come as no surprise.  I think this is welcome and allows caretakers to help those who require assistance with such matters.  Educational charities may want to watch this one though for overzealous parents who think they are protecting their offspring over 18 from being pestered for money.  This is another point for feedback to ensure that some sort of check is made and that this part is not exploited.

Overall, this document is reassuring and removes many of the fears opponents of this system have had so far.  Do get engaged with this process. It is so very important.  Email and have your say.

-Christian H Propper, Senior Consultant

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