The Introduction of FPS: Prevention is better than a cure

Yesterday saw the announcement of the introduction of the Fundraising Preference Service, which will become mandatory for all charities to screen against. The aim of the FPS is to act as a reset button for people who feel overwhelmed by the amount of marketing they receive from charities. If they sign up to it charities will have to remove them from their databases. It is not known how the mechanics will work; whether the person is removed for ever, for a period of time or until they reactivate a relationship with a charity. It is also not known what happens if they are an existing donor of a charity.

The good news for the direct marketing and charity sectors is that the government has scrapped plans to introduce statutory regulation – although apparently this was very much touch and go.

The bottom line is that both sectors have very narrowly escaped a legislative framework which would inevitably have meant that charities would have missed out on hundreds of thousands of pounds in unrealised donations. However, and this is the crux of the issue, moving forward we must all pull together to ensure responsible direct marketing or face the prospect of stringent controls.

Whilst many people, including the ICO, do not agree that the FPS is the right way forward it does provide a best practice guide to which both industries can work. It will be interesting to see the operational details  emerge over the next few months, but what will be fundamental is a process behind what happens to companies that fail to use it. They say prevention is better than cure, but if unscrupulous marketers continually choose to flout the code then nothing will be achieved and the reputation of charitable direct marketing will remain negative meaning legislation will be inevitable. This really is last chance saloon.