OMG it’s the FPS!

check boxSo, it is coming, it is unstoppable, and all we poor fundraisers can do is to try an influence the Working Group to make it less draconian than we fear. The devil dances in the details and it is there our fight should commence.

For those of you who have been out of it since New Year we are going to have our own Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) just like the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) that has so successfully stopped junk mail, and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) that has stopped us being alternately reminded that we have recently been in a car crash or been sold payment protection insurance. That is because fundraisers, as any fool knows, can be trusted to do the right thing far less than bankers, lawyers and politicians.

Okay, I have got over it now. The Institute of Fundraising UK says that key proposals include:

  • The type of communications that should come within the scope of the FPS
  • The channels to which the FPS should apply
  • How the FPS should relate to existing preference services such as the TPS and MPS
  • The possibility of allowing individuals to amend their FPS registration
  • The application of the FPS to smaller charities
  • The use of the FPS as a tool to protect vulnerable people.

They, and I, would encourage you all to contact George Kidd, Chair of the Working Group, at before 31 March so that they can take into account your views and recommendations. Of course, my opener will be that the whole idea is iniquitous and should be resolutely opposed by them.

Let’s, however, take a very long spoon with us and look in more detail at the possibilities:

The type of communication may be a letter, phone call, newsletter, email but what about tweets, Facebook posts, Snapchat, etc? Should the FPS deal with any type of communication that mentions fundraising or any communication at all? What about newsletters that give advice about legacies? Or mention local group fundraising activities? Or any charity communication that don’t mention fundraising at all – these are certainly in the Working Group’s sights.

The channels could be email, addressed direct mail, un-addressed letters (door-drops) which receivers often treat as addressed mail (can you thank people on FPS who respond to these. Will we see a mountain of untargeted mail as we cannot contact FPS people?), telephone calls, tweets etc. but is there any point duplicating the MPS and the TPS – though neither of them work?

Which should have preference? If someone signs up to TPS can they opt in to their charity calling them to thank them for a gift? If someone doesn’t sign up to FPS will MPS still stop charities mailing them?

Can people sign FPS then change it to allow a charity or two or any they choose to mail them, or is FPS a reset button (the nuclear option) and once signed that is it for all fundraising communication. How can charities write to them to ask them to opt in? Presumably this is a ‘fundraising’ not a ‘charity’ preference service so communication which doesn’t mention fundraising should be allowed.

Should small charities under £1m be exempt (£2m, £5m) and why? What happens if they get £1.5 one year and £900,000 the next. Presumably we work to the financial accounts once signed, which may come out months later, so do we need a linked date when the FPS begins to apply?

Can charities tell who is vulnerable (over pension age whatever that is these days?) without both asking about age and infirmities that the vulnerable might not want to give. I guess shaky handwriting like mine might be a giveaway. Can full-time carers or any carer sign someone up?

How long will signing up to FPS last? A year? Two years? A lifetime?

I would urge you to take part at this stage, as the Working Group’s decisions will affect all our lives, though I personally find it is difficult to engage properly with these questions when I don’t agree at all with the basic idea.

John Baguley, CEO, Group IFC


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