IoF data advice two years out of date

IoF data advice two years out of date.jpg newThe Institute of Fundraising effectively sparked the current uproar over the charity sector’s marketing practices because it endorsed a regulatory approach which was scrapped in 2013, according to the privacy regulator.
The revelation is contained in evidence submitted by the Information Commissioner’s Office to the Parliamentary investigation into call centre fundraising, being carried out by Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee.
According to the ICO, the IoF and many of its members refused to accept that charities had to follow the same direct marketing rules as any other organisation, with many in complete ignorance over both the Data Protection Act and the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations.
Until August this year, the IoF’s Code of Fundraising Practice was using guidance which said the ICO would only take action when it received complaints. This was actually withdrawn in 2013.
The scale of the problem only came to light after the ICO launched its own investigation following an expose about the practices of a number of high-profile charities, including Oxfam, the NSPCC, Macmillan Cancer Support, the British Red Cross, and the PDSA.
Only then had most organisations looked into when and where individuals’ consent to receive marketing had been obtained.
The ICO said that in addition to the organisations under investigation, it planned to contact over 80 more charities as part of its education and awareness work in the sector.
The regulator said in its submission that many organisations’ privacy policies, retention policies and opt-in/opt-out wording were flawed, with some of the charities retaining donor data for “extremely long” periods.
“This view does not appear to have been challenged by the self-regulatory bodies,” the ICO said. “It is difficult to see how some of the current methods of gathering sign-ups to direct debits, high-pressure telephone techniques or buying-in or swapping of lists equates to the sort of long-established relationship envisaged in our earlier guidance.”

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