In the light of the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) working group consultation, here are some questions that still remain.
Process and practicalities
- Does FPS operate at the household or individual level? The guidance refers people to the Telephone Preference service which operates at the household level. Will two people in the same household be able to choose different ways to be treated by telephone calls by fundraisers under FPS?
- If a charity has recently received an explicit ‘opt-in’ consent from a donor does that over-ride a FPS reset request. Or does an FPS request over-ride any previous opt-in consents? Which of FPS reset or ‘explicit opt-in’ has precedence over the other?
- If a person donates to a charity after setting the reset, are they still covered by FPS reset for that charity? The working group implies that a donation would lift the reset. Would this include a direct debit, payroll, sponsored event, or lottery donation? Would the reset be lifted automatically? Or with ‘opt-in’ consent as well?
- How frequently would a charity need to run its database against the FPS suppression file? Monthly? Quarterly? Yearly? Would there be a charge for doing so? What about charities with multiple databases which don’t talk to each other?!
- Can charities write to a donor who has pressed the reset and make them aware that they won’t be communicating with them anymore because of FPS?
- What happens when a donor moves house, changes mobile phone number or email address? – how does their suppression of communications keep up with them? What or who will remind them they need to keep their data up to date?
- What verification will there be to make sure the person who is asking for the reset is the person in question – to stop somebody who had no authority to act for a person doing so. For example, what is to stop somebody signing up a person for a reset as a prank or because they think they are doing them a favour?
- What verification will there be for those who are signing up on behalf of vulnerable people, for the same reason as above
What’s in and what’s out
- Is FPS only confined to charities? What about campaigning organisations? Will political parties asking for donations be part of FPS? Or the current Guardian scheme asking for supporters at £49 a year as it does presently? The ‘fundraising’ definition from the working group would certainly apply to the Guardian scheme.
- What about the geography of FPS? Will charities mailing from a different regulatory zone like Scotland, Europe or the US be covered by FPS? What if an overseas donor signs up to FPS – would the charity have an obligation to take notice of their request?
- Will a company asking its employees or customers to take part in a fundraising event or activity on behalf of a named charity, or make a donation be covered by FPS?
- If lottery requests are not to be included in FPS, then what about top-up donations questions on lottery ticket appeals? (oh and charities absolutely don’t have a unique status to run lotteries, lottos or raffles - search York football club lottery for an example.)
- Where does membership fit in the FPS categorisation? Is it seen as a fundraising communication? Or will that depend on the type of membership scheme? With voting rights? With a magazine? With a newsletter? Without a set of free coasters, pens, bookmarks and cuddly toy on joining?
- Does the £1 million threshold apply even to organisations which don’t do any or only minimal fundraising to individuals? Could an organisation with 100 supporters still have to run its name against the FPS (which under the former minimum fundraising spend of £100k wasn’t the case)
- Would a charity which got a large government grant (or Big Lottery grant or legacy etc) which pushed an organisation over the £1 million threshold one year and which then a year later was below the £1 million threshold, be expected to be part of FPS? How would it work for organisations who are part of FPS and then not – donors who didn’t get fundraising communications will presumably then start getting them again.
Need and impact
- Why is FPS necessary at all when EU opt-in legislation has the effect of ensuring donors are only getting communications from charities they explicitly opt into? How does ‘opt-in’ fail to meet the criteria set by George Kidd of ‘meeting the public expectation that there is a way to easily deal with a situation where they feel they receive an unmanageable volume of fundraising requests’? Under ‘opt-in’ they don’t need to do anything to manage the volume of fundraising requests. Literally nothing.
- What is the estimated central cost of FPS and who is going to bear that cost?
- What is the estimated cost to a charity of running its database against the FPS suppression file (it is interesting to note that if this were government regulation the cost to businesses or individuals would have to be calculated before it could be assessed. Click here for detail of the template)
- What is the working group estimated take-up of FPS in terms of numbers of individuals?
- And what is the working group estimate of how much it might reduce giving by given that Stuart Etherington has ‘disputed’ the Adrian Sargeant estimate.