Daily Telegraph claims that charities are “dodging the rules” for direct mail fundraising by using unaddressed missives to avoid the new Fundraising Preference Service have been dismissed as a “laughable and pathetic attempt to discredit the industry”.
The article, which featured quotes from an interview with the regulator’s chair Lord Grade, appeared under the headline “Charities dodge begging ban”. It said charities were “circumventing a ban on begging letters to elderly people” by sending them generic letters addressed to “Dear homeowner” rather than personalised letters, thereby avoiding the FPS strictures
The FPS allows people to block communications from specific charities, but only to named individuals rather than addresses. Royal Mail runs its own opt-out service for unaddressed mail, although this only covers leaflets and mailshots that posties deliver.
The article quoted Rundraising Regulator chief executive Stephen Dunmore as saying that if a letter was addressed to an individual, the FPS would stop it, but “if it is just mail that comes through then there is no one stopping it because the post office has to deliver it”.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Fundraising Regulator confirmed people could opt-out of receiving completely unaddressed post through a dedicated Royal Mail service – although this would still allow “dear homeowner” letters – and could use the FPS to block addressed mail from named charities.
She added: “We are grateful to charities for their speedy adoption of the Fundraising Preference Service, which enables individuals to suppress texts, addressed mail, phone call and emails.”
The Institute of Fundraising also released a statement, which said: “This is a misleading headline and does not reflect the high standards in the way charities raise vital funds.”
However, one industry source fumed: “Charities have always used unnaddressed mail and to claim they are doing so to avoid the FPS is a laughable and pathetic attempt to discredit the industry.
“The main reason is that it is cheaper for charities on limited budgets and less intrusive, too.
“Let’s face it, only 3,700 individuals have signed up to the FPS in the first four months; hardly the stampede many were predicting. Maybe the Telegraph should concentrate on the real issues, like why in this day and age there is such a dire need for so many charities, not this sensational nonsense.”
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Dear duplicitous, data-driven Daily Mail
Truth hard to swallow for British media
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