Claims that the Fundraising Preference Service would spread like a plague of locusts through the charity sector have been blown out of the water after the latest figures show that just 7,000 people have registered for the service since it launched nine months ago.
The figures, released by the Fundraising Regulator, show that registrations have virtually dried up in the past few months, trickling in at just over 43 requests a day.
In total, 6,806 people have used the scheme, making a 16,557 requests to block communications from individual charities. After the first month, when 2,617 people made 6,305 requests, an additional 4,189 people made 10,252 requests in the following eight months.
To put this in context, there are 22 million numbers on the Telephone Preference Service and 6.4 million addresses on the Mailing Preference Service.
The figures are a far cry from the dire predictions that the FPS could have a “devastating” effect on the sector; a study by nfpSynergy in the run up to the launch suggested that 30 million people could register for the scheme.
Institute of Fundraising head of policy and external affairs Daniel Fluskey said: “I don’t think there’s a feeling that the FPS needs to have X amount of people signed up to it to be a success, and we certainly never thought it was a numbers game.
“If there are 6,800 people who really don’t want to receive communications, the fact that they can be reassured that they can stop those communications is a good thing.”
However, Mark Roy, chairman of REaD Group and one of the fiercest critics of the scheme, said: “Whilst our long-held view was that the FPS was completely unnecessary and unneeded, this outcome is obviously unexpected. I am wondering where the research that suggested consumers wished to opt out of charity communications came from, as clearly this was flawed.
“My real concern is about how much less money has been raised in the intervening period. Clearly the mere threat of FPS’ existence, along with a lot of knee-jerk policy making, has left some charities paralysed in the proverbial headlights in outbound communication terms. The true cost of that will be felt by those in our society who are no longer able to function because the charity that has supported them is no longer able to do so.
“There is simply nothing good to say about the FPS. It is ill-thought through, badly delivered, poorly implemented and now, pretty much unused. Perhaps now, on the virtual eve of GDPR implementation, we can return to a more normalised fundraising marketplace and charities can get on and do what they do best – supporting those that are most needy in our society.”
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