Data Protection and Launch of New Fundraising Preference Service

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On 6 July, the Fundraising Regulator launched the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS), a new scheme which enables members of the public to request that selected charities stop sending direct marketing communications to them.

The FPS allows members of the public to identify up to three charities in an online ‘stop request’ by using their names or Charity Commission numbers. If a member of the public wishes to identify more charities, they can do so by submitting new requests and there is no limit on the number of requests an individual can submit.

Once the charity is named on the FPS, the individual must choose the communication methods (post, text, phone, email) they wish to end, and enter their own contact details before submitting the ‘stop request’. The named charity will then receive notification of the suppression request and be invited to view it on the FPS portal.  The charity is then given 28 days to cease contact.

The FPS can only be used to stop fundraising by charities based in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that is targeted at a specific individual, and therefore does not extend to:

  • Fundraising in a public place;
  • Unsolicited mail (e.g. addressed to "householder"); or
  • Door-to-door fundraising.

The Fundraising Regulator has asked charities with a public fundraising spend of over £100,000 to submit their details voluntarily to the FPS portal. Other registered charities will be contacted by the Fundraising Regulator by email upon receipt of their first FPS request.

The Code of Fundraising Practice requires that charities stop sending direct marketing communications to individuals where a request is made through the FPS.  If a charity is found to have breached the Code, the Fundraising Regulator may take action. This could result in an intervention by the Information Commissioner's Office, which has the power to prosecute and issue fines under data protection legislation and has recently imposed significant fines on charities for data protection breaches.

The launch of the FPS represents a further step towards giving individuals more control over their data.  Whilst the Fundraising Regulator does not have the power to issue fines, we expect them to work closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure that individual preferences and the FPS is respected and, where required, fines may be issued for a failure to do so.

The FPS can be accessed here.

Contact our experts for further advice

Oliver Kidd

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