An independent group of Scottish fundraising experts has said the soon to be introduced Fundraising Preference Service is unnecessary in Scotland
Scottish charities have been advised not to use the soon to be launched Fundraising Preference Service (FPS), where members of the public can register to block contact from fundraisers.
The new service is similar to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and is designed to ensure that people, particularly elderly people, are not bombarded by calls and letters from charities looking for donations.
It is due to launch in early 2017 at an intial cost of £750,000 after it was proposed in a 2015 National Council for Voluntary Organisations-led UK review of fundraising practice in 2015. It has been designed to apply to all UK charities that spend £100,000 or more year on fundraising and will be supported by an annual £3,000 to £4,000 subscription fee.
We have worked hard to design a system that is appropriate for the make-up of the Scottish sector and will give us the tools we need to continually work to raise standards in fundraising
The review followed a series of fundraising scandals, including the case of 92-year-old poppy seller Olive Cooke from Bristol, who was inundated with requests from charities in the years before her death in 2015.
The idea is that a member of the public would be able to get in touch with a single group to cancel communication from all charities, rather than having to contact each charity individually.
However, a separate independent expert group examining fundraising in Scotland has now decided the service is unnecessary for Scottish-only charities.
The group, which included representation from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), consulted charities in Scotland on their thought about the FPS.
It has now notified the UK Fundraising Regulator that it is not convinced the FPS offers any more protection that current laws.
Valerie Surgenor, a partner specialising in charity at MacRoberts law firm and chair of the expert group, said: “The third sector in Scotland in general understands the attractiveness of the FPS concept.
“We all have a desire to protect vulnerable people, curb aggressive fundraising and promote good practice generally and indeed there is nothing to prevent the Scottish public from signing up to FPS should they wish to do so.
“Whilst this won’t cover fundraising communications from Scottish-only charities, it will cover charities from England and Wales (and UK-wide charities whose lead regulator is the Charity Commission), however I am sure Scottish charities will respect the wishes of any potential donor.”
A statement from the group said OSCR and SCVO will be launching new campaign to raise awareness of new European data protection laws that come in to effect in 2018 that will “significantly affect how charities raise funds in the future.”
Judith Turbyne, OSCR’s head of engagement, said it was fully behind the decision to advise charities against using the FPS.
She said the expert group had: “looked very closely at the Fundraising Preference Service and whether or not the service would be right for the sector in Scotland; a sector which is predominantly made up of small and medium sized organisations.
“Looking at the evidence and consulting with key partners, there was not sufficient evidence to suggest that the new system would offer anything over the current legal requirements.
“If the aim of the new system is to improve fundraising practice, then what is extremely important is that charities fully understand their current legal obligations, that they have the processes in place to make sure they are fulfilling these obligations and that they are ready for the new data protection legislation which will likely be coming in before the departure of the UK from the European Union.”
She added: “Building an effective approach to fundraising regulation requires us to make sure that the system is appropriate in each jurisdiction. The Implementation Group in Scotland has worked hard to design a system that is appropriate for the make-up of the Scottish sector and will give us the tools we need to continually work to raise standards in fundraising.”
Members of the public in Scotland who have a complaint to make about Scottish charity fundraising should contact the Scottish Fundraising Complaints service.