A first look at the Fundraising Preference Service

FPS tick box

Daniel Fluskey | 7 March 2016

In this first article, we review the scope of the ‘fundraising preference’ service as set out in the ‘conversation with stakeholders’

What is this ‘conversation’ about? 

The consultation paper on the proposals for a ‘fundraising preference service’ released this week gives a helpful insight into the initial views and ideas of the Working Group set up to scope the service. It is right that at this stage the Working Group have shared their initial propositions and opened them for comment and feedback. The fundraising preference service has probably been the one recommendation in the Etherington review that has caused the most debate and opinion in the fundraising sector alongside anxiety and concern. Organisations have been genuinely worried that a system through which individuals could inadvertently cut themselves off from causes that they care about and have supported in the past could have a severe and detrimental impact on relationships with donors as well as the impact on services, charitable activities, and beneficiaries. That is why it is so important that the Working Group and the new Fundraising Regulator hear the feedback and views of charities, fundraisers, and all stakeholders to inform and design a system that builds public trust and protects vulnerable people, but at the same time avoids the unintended consequences for both donors and charities. We would strongly encourage all of our members and other charities and fundraisers to put forward your views to the Working Group.


What service should the FPS provide? 

It must be recognised right at the start that this is very much an ‘implementation’ paper. The new Fundraising Regulator has been set up partly to establish and introduce a fundraising preference service as recommended in the Etherington review and strongly endorsed by the Minister for Civil Society. The questions it poses are not ‘whether a fundraising preference service should be introduced’, but ‘what is the detail on which it should work’; not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ and ‘how’. 

However, that does not mean that the purpose and reasoning behind the introduction of an FPS should be waved through without further review, consultation, and impact assessment. The issues that we’re dealing with here are fundamentally important: how to embed donor choice, protect vulnerable people, ensure that members of the public are not overwhelmed by fundraising, and rebuild trust - they would have benefitted from a wider conversation on how to resolve and work to address these issues and identify the right solutions. In this context we would welcome further clarity and direction about further consultation with the sector on bringing in any changes and assessing the impact and effectiveness of the fundraising preference service for donors, the public, and charities. 

Over the next few blog posts, we’ll be looking at some of the main propositions in the paper to give some initial thoughts and comment, covering: 

- The proposition on the separation of ‘fundraising’ communications, from wider marketing communications

- How the FPS will relate to discussions around consent and compliance with the new EU Data Protection Regulations

- Appropriate safeguarding for people in vulnerable circumstances

Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and Research, Institute of Fundraising

In the next blog we look at one of the key propositions of the FPS discussion paper…


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