The Government has ditched plans to introduce statutory regulation for charities – for now – but is pressing ahead with the controversial Fundraising Preference Service amid warnings that the sector is in the last chance saloon.
Direct Marketing Commission boss George Kidd (pictured) has been appointed chair of the FPS, which still has many critics – including Information Commissioner Christopher Graham – although the Minister for the Civil Society Rob Wilson said the Government would not hestitate to introduce statutory regulation if the scheme did not work.
Speaking at the Future of Fundraising summit, called by NCVO chair Sir Stuart Etherington, Wilson said: “It was on a knife edge to force statutory regulation. You do not know how close it came. Confidence in charities has dropped to its lowest level since 1997. That trust in charities is so low is concerning.
“The public wants greater control over how and when they are contacted, and have the ability to say ‘no more’. FPS will not be the default way for people to interact with charities, but give them the means to reset their relationship. FPS is just one part of the system to improve fundraising in the long run. Public and Parliament have to make this happen. If this fails, statutory regulation will include the FPS,” he said.
“I have heard dire predictions, and I treat them with scepticism, because it’s difficult to predict the impact of something that has not been designed yet. It [the FPS] must be able to have a reset button for any person feeling inundated with the volume of communications, but I don’t want it to be so complicated that it takes forever to deliver it,” added Wilson.
Kidd said the FPS would be “a working group”. He added: “If we get responsible practice, it will dramatically reduce the use of this preference service. I’m instinctively an opt-out person. If you want to demonstrate why opt-in’s right, then you need to demonstrate why opt-out’s not. Choosing not to listen might have a short term benefit for some fundraisers, but it’s long term ruin,” he said.
Etherington charity slams Charity Commission plan
Charities to lose £5bn a year, says REaD group study
Reforms to exterminate £2bn from charity sector
Macmillan fesses up to last year’s ICO TPS warning
Grade becomes charity enforcer but critics fume
Etherington calls urgent summit of top UK charities
Charities face legal threat over new marketing rules
Opt-in switch to rip £36m hole in RNLI’s finances
Graham slams ‘confusing’ charity preference service