Fundraising Regulator issues warnings to 59 charities for failure to comply with FPS

The Fundraising Regulator has issued regulatory notices against 59 charities that have failed to comply with the Fundraising Preference Service.

Charities are required to comply with the FPS under both the Code of Fundraising Practice and the Data Protection Act 2018.

However, 59 charities have been referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office after ignoring requests made by members of the public not to receive direct marketing from them.

According to the Fundraising Regulator, around 8,300 people have submitted over 25,000 requests since the launch of the FPS in 2017. Roughly one third of people using the FPS are doing it on behalf of a vulnerable individual, it said.

After a request has been made to stop communication from a charity, the service automatically e-mails each charity’s nominated contact listed with the Charity Commission. Charities have 28 days to act on the request to stop contacting the individual. Failure to action the request results in a warning.

The Fundraising Regulator had to issue 59 of these warnings to charities after repeated attempts to contact them to explain why they had ignored requests from members of the public to stop contact.

It said chief executives of each charity also received a final warning explaining that a failure to act on a suppression request made through the FPS may be a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Fundraising Regulator chief executive, Gerald Oppenheim said: “The FPS is an important tool in helping to rebuild trust between members of the public, particularly those who are vulnerable, and the charity sector. Charities that fail to respect requests made by the public to stop unwanted communication risk damaging the good work done by the rest of the sector.

“Some charities may think they have valid reasons for not accessing the suppression request. Despite this, they are still in breach of the Code and possibly in breach of the Data Protection Act, because the request is an individual’s wish to stop receiving direct marketing.”

The ICO’s director of investigations, Stephen Eckersley added: “Charities that ignore the Fundraising Preference Service run the real risk of causing distress and offence to people who just don’t want to receive their marketing communications.

“The ICO has written to these charities to remind them they must act lawfully and responsibly in protecting people’s personal data, and in how they communicate with them. Our advice for charities is clear: they must not contact people registered on the FPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.”

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