Charity marketing opt-out service plummets to new low

callerThe Fundraising Preference Service, set up two years ago following the 2015 backlash against charities’ aggressive marketing methods, is on its last legs, with users reduced to a trickle and now standing at an all-time low.

That is according to a new report commissioned by the Fundraising Regulator, which concludes the cost of service should be reduced“significantly”.

In February, the regulator briefed consultancy Action Planning to review whether the service was effective and provided value for money, and whether it was still necessary following the introduction of GDPR in May 2018.

While the review report finds the FPS is “reliable” and “generally easy to use”, it warns that use of the FPS is falling sharply; from January to June 2020 there were just 26 users making 36 requests each week. If this level of activity was to carry on for the year, it would total just over 1,800 requests in 12 months.

This is compared to its first year of operation when the FPS received 19,583 requests; last year there were 8,719 requests.

The report states: “Awareness is low and the service is not easy to find through an online search about how to stop charity direct marketing.”

It adds that almost three-quarters of charity respondents believe the FPS does not provide good value for money and only a quarter reckon there is still a need for the service with GDPR in place.

The report calls for the regulator to “seek to significantly reduce the cost of the service by investigating options for a minimal viable set up that is primarily aimed at protecting people in vulnerable circumstances”.

It also recommends focusing the regulator’s limited marketing budget on ensuring the service could be found when someone was looking for a way to stop charity marketing, rather than by seeking to raise awareness among the general population.

Fundraising Regulator chair Lord Toby Harris said: “The FPS was established three years ago, and we recognise that since then the demands and need for the service have altered. The recommendations outlined in the review provide a significant evidence base from which to make improvements and enhancements to the service.

“We remain committed to regulating in the public’s interest, in order to protect the trust in fundraising that the sector has worked so hard to build.”

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