Dogs Trust has become the latest charity to be upbraided by the Fundraising Standards Board over a call made by telephone agency NTT Fundraising which used data supplied by a lifestyle marketing company, which had not given an adequate opt-out mechanism.
The complainant objected to receiving the fundraising call as he was registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and did not recall giving permission for the charity to contact him.
The complainant’s details had been obtained from the third party data supplier, which had carried out two lifestyle marketing survey calls (in 2011 and 2015) and during which it was indicated that the complainant agreed that he would be willing to hear from third parties by phone and email.
However, at the end of the second survey call, he was given an automated list of the specific organisations that his details would be passed to, but was not given any opportunity to opt out of contact from those organisations. His contact data was supplied for the charity to use in its telephone fundraising campaign conducted by NTT Fundraising.
Although NTT Fundraising and Dogs Trust believed that permission for future calls had been secured during the second lifestyle marketing survey call, the FRSB determined that any permission given was not sufficient to override TPS regulations because the complainant had not been asked to provide informed or specific consent to future fundraising calls from those organisations.
As such, the regulator found NTT Fundraising and the data supplier in breach of the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice. The FRSB also found Dogs Trust had breached the Code by failing to have sufficient oversight of the marketing leads that were secured for its donor acquisition campaign.
The case has been referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to determine whether breaches of the Data Protection Act or Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) have occurred.
Commenting on the investigation findings, FRSB chair Andrew Hind said: “It is essential that organisations secure appropriate levels of consent for any charity fundraising calls, particularly when it comes to contacting people registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Charities working with third parties must do all they can to ensure that those third parties comply with the Code and secure the necessary permissions for any fundraising calls that will be carried out in the charity’s name.”
Since the complaint was raised in September 2015, Dogs Trust has indicated that it will no longer make fundraising calls to individual contacts secured through lifestyle marketing surveys unless the individual had given consent in response to a question specifically naming the charity.
NTT has achieved TPS Assured certification and regularly audits data contacts received from third parties. However, the FRSB has recommended that NTT reviews all current agreements and scripts in use by third party suppliers to ensure that consent obtained in this way is compliant with the Code.
The FRSB has recommended that all charities using lifestyle marketing surveys to obtain new marketing leads regularly review the content of survey scripts and consider spot-checking those telephone calls.
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