Evaluation of the Fundraising Preference Service

We are pleased to publish 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. This is the first review of its kind since the Fundraising Regulator set the FPS up in 2017.

Download the executive summary – this contains the key findings and recommendations

Download the full report – this contains the full analysis and in-depth interviews

‘The evaluation finds that 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 fundraising.

‘It recommends a simpler and more cost-effective solution be developed that focuses
primarily on providing a convenient and regulated way for people in vulnerable
circumstances (and those acting on their behalf) to opt-out of receiving charity direct
marketing. This would also help the Fundraising Regulator to free up additional resources
to regulate and champion fundraising as a force for good.’

Extract from Executive Summary produced by Emma Insley and Peter Campbell Smith, Action Planning Consultancy Ltd, October 2020


Following the evaluation, we have accepted the following recommendations for improvement: 

  1. Seek to significantly reduce the cost of the service by investigating options for a minimal viable set up that is primarily aimed at protecting people in vulnerable circumstances.
  2. Consider how to ensure that third-party suppression requests made directly to charities are consistently managed and adhered to when there is reason to believe that the supporter is in vulnerable circumstances.
  3. Investigate the feasibility of telling charities when the request has been made on behalf of a third party and include an optional text box that allows FPS users to inform charities why the request has been made.
  4. Encourage charities and others to promote the FPS to people in vulnerable circumstances.
  5. Increase the number of suppressions that can be made in a single online transaction to 10.
  6. Issue guidance to charities about what to do if they receive a suppression request via FPS from someone who isn’t on their database.
  7. Focus the regulator’s limited marketing budget on ensuring that the service can be found when someone is looking for a way to stop charity marketing, rather than by seeking to raise awareness amongst the general population.
  8. Develop a more visible information page about the FPS that outlines what the service does and does not do. This could include general advice on ‘how to stop charity mail’ to help boost search rankings.
  9. Provide clearer information to the public about how and when to raise a complaint with the regulator if they think that their data may have been sold or swapped by a charity.

Our response

We welcome the independent evaluation of the Fundraising Preference Service. The evaluation comes three years after the Fundraising Regulator launched the FPS in 2017, and it provides a significant evidence base from which to make improvements and enhancements to the service. Now that we have a better understanding of how the FPS is used by both members of the public and charities, and the important role it plays in protecting people who may be in vulnerable circumstances, we are able to take the recommendations outlined in the report forward. Our board has agreed to implement 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.