Fundraising Regulator chairman Lord Grade has incensed many in the charity sector for a series of gaffe-strewn media interviews in which he said the sector was full of “laggards” and appeared not to know how the new Fundraising Preference Service works.
In the Daily Telegraph, Grade said that the regulator had seen many charities make “a real effort to review their practices” but that “too many charities are proving to be laggards”. He added: “They will have to follow suit, whether they like it or not, due to another regulation [GDPR] which comes into force next year.”
Grade also appeared on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Breakfast, where he mistakenly said consumers would be able to use the FPS to prevent communication from all charities or hear only from “charities that you favour”.
According to the industry body’s own website, consumers can only opt-out of receiving marketing from three charities in each online request to the FPS. “If you wish to identify further charities, you can do so by submitting new requests,” it adds.
Grade also said that the FPS “launches in a week or so” when it actually launches this Thursday.
He then claimed that charities could face fines of up to £25,000, although later admitted that it was down to the Information Commissioner’s Office to levy monetary penalties, and that the £25,000 figure was based on recent fines dished out to the British Heart Foundation and the RSPCA for entirely different issues.
The regulator actually has the power to fine firms up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act.
Institute of Fundraising chief executive Peter Lewis said: “I am deeply frustrated and saddened to again hear Lord Grade talking this morning about the fundraising community in a negative way, misrepresenting how the overwhelming majority of charities communicate with and value their supporters. We know that our members’ relationships with donors is paramount, which is why over the last year charities have supported the set-up of the Regulator and helped to shape the FPS.
“We fully support a strong regulatory system. However, for any non-statutory system to succeed, it is vital that clarity prevails over confusion. Only then can the regulator fully command the trust of both charities and the public. Ahead of Thursday’s launch of the FPS it is essential that the public hear the right information about the service so that the levels of public trust and confidence that Lord Grade wants to see can be achieved.”
Meanwhile IoF head of policy and research Daniel Fluskey tweeted: “There must be a way we can talk about fundraising regulation/changes without the need for pejorative language. It’s not helping.”
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