It’s about 18 months since the Fundraising Regulator proposed their Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). Like the Telephone (TPS) and Mail (MPS) Preference Services, it will give people in England and Wales the ability to opt out of all direct marketing communications from a specific charity or fundraiser.
This covers communication via phone, text, direct mail and, most importantly for us, email. They hope this will empower the public, giving them control to manage what they receive from charities. Due to launch summer 2017, the regulators are currently consulting on the new service and are offering a forum for your feedback along with brief weekly updates between March and May.
Initially referred to as the proverbial “reset button“, the prospect of the public blocking some or even all charities in one swoop set alarm bells ringing. Blanket opt-outs could wipe an estimated £2bn from the sector’s fundraising income in the coming years. This resulted in a great deal of criticism and confusion from the sector and, rather worryingly, hadn’t featured in any of the regulator’s previous consultations.
At the end of last year the regulator moved to provide some clarification. “To make things as straightforward as possible FPS will cover all charities and communications,” it said. It will introduce a level field and won’t unfairly favour different sized organisations or specific channels.
The moved to assure fundraisers that they would still be able to “get in touch with their supporters using legitimate interests on other communications such as standing orders/direct debits, legacies and volunteering”. They meet the “legitimate interest” criterion of the Data Protection Act which enables organisations to communicate under certain circumstances. If a communication serves a valid, reasonable and justifiable purpose it may still be permitted. Not ideal, but not a complete blackout then.
Opt out service?
They were also keen to reassure charities that the FPS would not be a one-stop opt out service. People will be required to identify each individual registered charity and channel of communication. Their insight was that “committed donors are unlikely to want to opt out from the charities they support, particularly where charities have sought their consent for contact “. Don’t panic. If you don’t give your donors reasons to opt out, why would they want to?
Take a look at your own practices. What’s your donor experience like? Charities getting that right have nothing to worry about, right?
Quite what happens in 2018 when the new GDPR kicks in remains to be seen but there are certainly interesting times ahead.
Have Your Say
With the FPS now its development phase, the Fundraising Regulator want to get the sector involved in the process. Join their “Have Your Say” consultation to help shape the service with your views and insights. They hope to use these to make the service accessible and work positively for its users. It’s in your interest to to take part and have some influence on the development of the service. After all, you can’t complain later if you didn’t feedback when you had the chance.
Get in touch with us if you would like Copper to help you with your supporter strategy. If you want to improve engagement with your donors, then there has never been a better time.
Read more about the Fundraising Preference Service at its FAQ page.
Read their Guide for Charities here.