Not-for-Profit Blog

Data Protection: Questions & concerns around the Fundraising Preference Service

There has been a lot of discussion in the sector around the introduction of the Fundraising Protection Service next year and the big red, opt out button. But with a lot of uncertainly as to what it will look like exactly, what do the changes mean for your organisation? 

After hearing from data protection expert Gary Shipsey, MD of Protecture, at our free data protection seminar on Tuesday 6 December, we heard from Dorothy Aladenika from Girls' Day School Trust (GDST) about her concerns and challenges in relation to the upcoming changes to the Data Protection Act and the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). This was followed by a lively audience discussion.  


There’s a lot of confusion


There has been a lot of discussion in the sector around the introduction of the FPS next year and the big red, opt out button which would act like the telephone preference service and opt people out of communication from all charities. The FPS has now confirmed that there will not be a ‘big red button’ however the exact details are still being worked out. This uncertainty has led to lots of questions and concerns — not to mention challenges.


The FPS will supposedly be a suppression list holding individual’s preferences as to whether they have opted in or out of being contacted by charities. It’s expected that fundraisers will check against this list before running campaigns, but this is going to be a lengthy task and will be fraught with user error — for example, spelling mistakes in names or email addresses or even people who have the same name. GDST, like many organisations, simply do not have the time or resource to make these lengthy checks against their CRM system. It was also thought that consent would need to be sought every six months for their supporters to opt-in again but thankfully this is not the case as it would have been completely unmanageable.


“We have found that there is a lot of confusion how regulations are changing and what we need to do, as different sources are reporting different things.” Dorothy Aladenika, Girls' Day School Trust


Preparing for the changes


Although there aren’t definitive guidelines yet, it’s important to prepare as best you can. In order to demonstrate clear consent and not just implied consent, GDST will need to re-word their literature, website copy as well as their online data capture and web-sync process. This is a big undertaking and will naturally take some time.


As Gary said, it’s important to educate and inform supporters or members of the changes so that they are not surprised. GDST intends to educate all of their 65 users on the upcoming changes, which is going to be a big challenge.  They will do this via webinars and by visiting all 26 schools in person to carry out training.


Audience concerns around FPS


Following Dorothy’s talk, a lively discussion ensued and some of the concerns were:


  • Having a similar name to another organisation and the risk this brings in terms of opting out due to identity confusion.
  • Differentiating between the different levels of consent and the need for more clarity.
  • Older people with limited or no access to the internet - how will they be able to opt out? The FPS seems to be geared towards online preference centres, but these are not accessible to all.

The seminar was thought-provoking and raised lots of questions. Whilst we don’t have all the answers yet, Access works in close partnership with our clients and will be doing everything possible to ensure our software is compliant so that we can best support our clients.

“We had a thoroughly engaged audience who asked lots of great questions and there was lots of idea sharing.  In terms of our customers, we have been working closely with them for some time to agree best practice around data obligations and they are playing an active role in exciting product developments to embrace the anticipated changes.” Rob Barr, Divisional Director, Access Group.