Recommended charity opt-in statements under fire

Charity rules 'ludicrous' say agenciesCharities which use the marketing consent wording provided by an NCVO working group are likely to get below average levels of donors opting in to receive charity communications, amid claims that the statement is “confusing and disturbing”.
The example statement on consent was issued by NCVO as part of its work on opt-in fundraising published in September. Although the wording was for guidance only, it is understood that many charities have simply cut and pasted it into their privacy statements.
According to fast.Map, which interviewed 749 UK adults online in October, the aggregate survey responses were assigned an index score of 71, with the index average being 100. It concluded that the “NCVO example statement is likely to generate consent levels that are below average for a statement of this nature (i.e. opt-in)”.
Respondents found some of the wording of the example statement “confusing and disturbing”, and said it was packed with fundraising jargon – highlighting phrases such as ‘profiling’, ‘targeting’ and ‘authorised agents’.
Survey respondents were also critical of the example statement for using “generic, dry and uninspiring”. The survey found that while “technically, many donor’s concerns have been expressed, respondents are not reassured”, and while “words are used to explain and reassure, it is likely that the choice of technical language is putting them [donors] off”.
David Cole, managing director of fast.Map, said: “I applaud attempts to articulate standards in a complex area, but I am deeply worried charities, large and small, will run with a standardised set of words simply because it’s the easiest option.
“The use of generic uninspiring language is a turn-off to donors and will not achieve the outcome charities want; namely consenting donors that are motivated to support. There are emerging leaders in this field that are embracing the marketing of consent.”
A spokesman from NCVO told Civil Society magazine that the examples “are for illustrative purposes and shouldn’t be used as templates”.
“We said that each charity should implement them in a way that reflects their audience. We knew that fundraisers would be the experts at finding ways to provide the clarity that the best practice guidelines recommend in the most effective way for their donors. It’s crucial for the long term of fundraising that we maintain the public’s trust in how charities use their data.”
Decision Marketing readers can get a free copy of the fast.MAP guide (normal price is £50), which provides a full critique of the NCVO statement as well as strategies to use when constructing consent statements at the fast.Map website > Decision Marketing download code CON102

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