Charities reported to regulator over nuisance marketing

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Organisations refused to comply with desist notices 

4th March 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Regulatory notices have been served against 59 charities that failed to comply with the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS), new figures reveal.  

Charities in England and Wales are required to comply with the FPS under the provisions of the Code of Fundraising Practice and the Data Protection Act 2018.

All 59 charities have been referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office after ignoring requests made by members of the public not to receive direct marketing from them.

When a request is made to stop communication from a charity, the service automatically emails each charity’s nominated contact. This will be a specific person listed on the Charity Commission’s register of charities.

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive, Fundraising Regulator, said: “The FPS is an important tool in helping to rebuild trust between members of the public, particularly those who are vulnerable, and the charity sector. Charities that fail to respect requests made by the public to stop unwanted communication risk damaging the good work done by the rest of the sector.

“Some charities may think they have valid reasons for not accessing the suppression request. Despite this, they are still in breach of the Code and possibly in breach of the Data Protection Act, because the request is an individual’s wish to stop receiving direct marketing.”

The email says that someone from the charity must log in to the FPS online charity portal to collect a suppression request. Charities have 28 days to act on the request and stop contacting the individual. All of the organisations that have been named today have failed to action the request.

Charities risk damaging the good work done by the rest of the sector - Gerald Oppenheim

The Fundraising Regulator took action after repeated attempts were made to contact each charity to explain why they had ignored requests from members of the public to stop contact. The chief executives of each charity also received a final warning explaining that a failure to act on a suppression request made through the FPS may be a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. 

Stephen Eckersley, ICO’s director of investigations, said: “Charities that ignore the Fundraising Preference Service run the real risk of causing distress and offence to people who just don’t want to receive their marketing communications.

“The ICO has written to these charities to remind them they must act lawfully and responsibly in protecting people’s personal data, and in how they communicate with them. Our advice for charities is clear: they must not contact people registered on the FPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.”

Fundraising by charities only registered in Scotland is subject to Scottish charity law and the Scottish system of self-regulated fundraising is managed through the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel.