New consultation fuels fresh doubts over launch of FPS

charity again biggerThe Fundraising Regulator has launched yet another consultation on how the controversial Fundraising Preference Service should work, just weeks before it is due to launch, sparking fresh doubts about whether the scheme will ever be operational.
Although the regulator wants the scheme to launch in early summer – June is just 13 weeks away – it said the consultation is expected to run until May, but no final deadline has been set.
Five months ago the managing director of charity software provider Blackbaud Europe, John Bird, claimed the scheme would be unworkable for the majority of charities, because they would not be able to gain the technical capability to fully screen their data against the scheme under the regulator’s then planned five-month timeframe.
But with the regulator now launching a second consultation – to allow charities, agencies, data companies and members of the public to register online and to give their views – the timeframe would appear to make compliance “mission impossible”.
The FPS will allow consumers to opt out of all direct marketing communications by telephone, email, text and direct mail from named charities, although, at the moment at least, only larger organisations will have to comply.
The consultation will seek respondents’ views on subjects ranging from the scheme’s appearance to its function. They will then receive weekly updates from the regulator, asking for their opinion on different elements of the FPS as the project unfolds.
A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said: “We are committed to making the development of the FPS an inclusive, which is why the consultation is so important. The service’s priority is protecting the public, but we also need the views of the charity sector.
“The service is an important step in rebuilding the public’s trust in the sector, although on its own it is not a silver bullet. It demands the cooperation and commitment of charities. There is clear progress being made, but there is still a long way to go.”
One industry insider said: “The FPS appears to have been doomed from the start. Initially all charities were going to have to comply, now only the big ones, and now a new consultation. The question now has to be it will it ever launch? GDPR comes into effect in May next year, and will effectively cover all that the FPS is offering. To me it looks like a dead duck.
“[FPS chairman] George Kidd has said the FPS and GDPR were unlikely to run side by side…are they just dragging it out so they don’t have to launch it? If so, why have they wasted so much money on it already?”

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