Fundraising Regulator publishes evaluation of the Fundraising Preference Service

The Fundraising Regulator has published an independent evaluation of the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS), the service that allows members of the public to stop direct marketing communications from fundraising organisations registered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The FPS evaluation was commissioned as part of our commitment to review the service three years on from its launch. It concludes that FPS is an important tool for members of the public wanting to opt-out of receiving communications from multiple charities. 

The evaluation was conducted by an independent consultancy, Action Planning, using surveys with members of the public, interviews with a wide range of third sector stakeholders and a charity focus group.

According to the evaluation report, the principle of an independent fundraising preference service is an important part of the support structure that helps to maintain public trust and ultimately strengthen charity fundraising. Users of the FPS recognise its reliability and how it easily meets the performance demands place on it, with many commenting that the service gives them ‘peace of mind’. 

Analysis of the FPS also found that the 31% of total suppressions since the FPS was launched were made on behalf of someone else, and in some months, this was over 50%.  When examining areas for improvement, the review raised important points around low awareness of FPS among the general public and lack of online visibility. Several charities also noted that they found the service more complex than it needed to be and were concerned about its cost effectiveness. 

The report makes several helpful recommendations for improving the FPS, including:

  • exploring ways to reduce the cost of the service by investigating less complex options, focusing on those in vulnerable circumstances;
  • encouraging charities and others to promote the FPS to people in vulnerable circumstances;
  • and issuing guidance to charities about what to do if they receive a suppression request via FPS from someone who isn’t on their database. 

The Fundraising Regulator has accepted the recommendations outlined in the evaluation report.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, said:

“The launch of the Fundraising Preference Service was a key recommendation put forward in the cross-party review and we welcome this independent evaluation. Its pleasing to see that the service remains a vital support service for the public, particularly for those who are more vulnerable and their relatives. 

“The FPS was established three years ago, and we recognise that since then the demands and need for the service have altered. The recommendations outlined in the review provide a significant evidence base from which to make improvements and enhancements to the service. 

“Our board has accepted all of the recommendations; some will require us to consult and work with the sector, while others are more straightforward to implement. We remain committed to regulating in the public’s interest, in order to protect the trust in fundraising that the sector has worked so hard to build.”