Charities criticise 'extremely expensive' Fundraising Preference Service

The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) is “extremely expensive” and a “major bugbear for most charities”, according to the findings of an independent report.

The service is run by the Fundraising Regulator and allows the public to block fundraising communications from charities.

But independent evaluation has found that charities satisfaction with service is “generally low”. Less than half (44%) of charities are satisfied with the FPS, citing concerns around complexity and cost.

The cost is a particular concern due to a small take up of the service among the public, the report, by Action Planning, found.

“Most charity dissatisfaction relates to the cost of the service compared to the relatively small number of users, which led to almost three quarters of charity respondents saying that they thought the service does not provide good value for money,” found the report, which has been commissioned by the regulator.

The FPS is funded through a levy on charities. The levy for charities spending more than £100,000 on fundraising is based on their fundraising expenditure. Those spending between £100,000 and £149,999 pay £150, while those spending more than £50m a year pay £15,000.

One charity told researchers that the cost was “the major bugbear for most charities” around the FPS. Another said they are “horrified by how expensive” the service is.

This was a view echoed by another charity, which said: “Given the low volume of suppression it’s an extremely expensive way to handle suppression requests.”

The report recommends the Fundraising Regulator “seek to significantly reduce the cost of the service by investigating options for a minimal viable set up that is primarily aimed at protected people in vulnerable circumstances”.

The report also found that the public are keen to select an option to suppress direct marketing from all fundraising organisations, but are required through the FPS to select the charities they wish to stop receiving communications from.

However, the report also found that the FPL is “reliable and easily meets the performance demands placed on it”.

“Users said that the service gave them convenience and peace of mind, particularly when wanting to stop direct marketing from multiple charities,” it adds.

“People found the FPS generally easy to use and user satisfaction is high.”

Fundraising Regulator vice-chair Margaret Moore said: “We regularly review all our expenditure and have taken steps to educe the cost by taking calls in-house and revising the terms of the contract with our suppliers. We will be reviewing everything again in the context of this evaluation.”

Lord Toby Harris, chair of the Fundraising Regulator, added: “Our board has accepted all of the recommendations; some will require us to consult and work with the sector, while others are more straightforward to implement. We remain committed to regulating in the public’s interest, in order to protect the trust in fundraising that the sector has worked so hard to build.”

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