Charities face marketing activity ban

GB and Royal Mail net Govt briefCharities should be banned from using certain marketing methods – including direct mail and telemarketing – if they are found to be abusing them, according to a Government-backed report, which also calls for a shift to an opt-in data regime.
If taken on board, the Regulating Fundraising for the Future report, commissioned by Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson and written by NCVO chairman Sir Stuart Etherington, would represent one of the biggest overhauls in charity marketing in history.
The report’s main recommendation is to scrap the self-regulatory Fundraising Standards Board, and replace it with a new regulator funded by a charity levy. Already sanctioned by the Institute of Fundraising, Etherington said the FRSB “simply does not have the clout or the sanctions. It’s got the wrong model of operating”.
However, the IoF does not come out of the review unscathed. Etherington believes it should no longer have responsibility for setting fundraising rules because the organisation remained open to accusations of conflicts of interest. In addition the IoF had not administered the current code of practice in a way which has protected public confidence.
Under the proposals, the new body would be able to stop charities from using certain fundraising methods for a set period, if they have been found to abuse them.
It would also have the power to adjudicate over all UK-based charities, even if they had not registered with it. In the present system, the FRSB only has power over its 1,400 members.
And, while it recognises that opt-in will be difficult for some charities, it said: “A forthcoming EU Regulation on reforms to data protection is likely to enforce such changes in law soon. We believe charities should reflect how much they value their supporters by leading the way. The recent revelations into fundraising practices and the serious concerns they have raised have made this a matter of urgency.”
Although yet to be passed, Brussels chiefs have consistently denied that under the EU General Data Protection Regulation explicit consent will be a legal requirement.
In the meantime, the report recommends the establishment of a dedicated Fundraising Preference Service, which all charities must run their existing data against.
Etherington added: “We seem to have found ourselves in a position where charities didn’t think hard enough about what it was like to be on the receiving end of some of their fundraising methods.
“They thought too much about the ends and not enough about the means. This has been a clear wake-up call and now is the time to tighten the standards.”

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