Rules on fundraising tightened

This summer has seen unprecedented coverage in the press and media regarding the way in which charities carry out their fundraising activities. This followed allegations that a 92 year old poppy seller had committed suicide after being overwhelmed by fundraising requests, and subsequently, when it emerged that charities were selling lists of personal data to each other and to other less scrupulous commercial organisations.

As a result, the Institute of Fundraising (IOF) announced a number of changes to its Code of Fundraising Practice on 21 September 2015 in response to an interim report by the Fundraising Standards Board (FSB) in June as follows:-

  • Charities will be banned from selling any individual’s data to a third party.
  • Every addressed fundraising communication will be required to carry a clear message explaining how donors can easily ‘opt out’ of receiving future communications.
  • Minimum font sizes will be introduced for opt-in and opt-out statements on all printed communication (including newspaper adverts).
  • Charities will only be able to share an individual’s data with third parties for fundraising communications if that individual has ‘opted in’ and provided express consent.
  • A new clear requirement will be introduced to ensure fundraisers end a telephone call when asked.
  • All fundraising calls from agencies and call centres will have to be made from an identifiable number.
  • The current grey area around ‘reasonable persuasion’ in the Code will be replaced with a clear requirement prohibiting intrusive or persistent behaviour that places undue pressure on a person to donate.

All of these measures are designed to raise standards within the sector and help rebuild public trust in charity giving, which a survey has shown is at its lowest level since 2007.

Similarly the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), who are responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act has specifically requested changes to fundraising rules to enforce stricter compliance with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Up to now the ICO has adopted a light touch with regard to charities, however they have now made it clear that TPS rules will be more strictly enforced, which could prevent charities speaking to existing donors if they have not given express permission.

The IOF’s Code of Fundraising Practice in relation to TPS matters has also changed as follows:-

a) Organisations MUST always check telephone numbers against TPS/CTPS* when intending to cold call donors.
b) Organisations MUST NOT make direct marketing calls to Telephone Preference Service (TPS)/Corporate TPS (CTPS) registered numbers unless the person who registered the number has notified the organisation that they are happy to receive calls for the time being.
c) Marketing calls under the guise of administrative calls MUST NOT be made. The IOF has advised its members to “read the ICO guidance on direct marketing for an explanation on the notes and application of the Data Protection Act and Privacy and Communications (EC Directive) Regulations”.

Further changes are likely after the IOF and FSB produce their final reports.

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