The British Red Cross has signed a written undertaking with the Information Commissioner’s Office. In a move likely to be viewed with interest by other charities, the organisation is seeking to ensure best practice around fundraising calls.
The decision follows an ICO investigation into a number of charities, including the Red Cross, named in a damaging Daily Mail article in 2015. Charities stood accused of aggressively targeting vulnerable people, harassing others who’d repeatedly objected to such marketing.
In its undertaking, the British Red Cross has pledged that within the next 12 months it will implement “opt-in” consent mechanisms for all live telephone marketing calls. It has agreed not to allow calls to supporters unless they’ve have given ‘a clear affirmative action establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication’ to their data being used in this way. In a significant step the charity has said consent will only last for two years, after which time they will not call supporters.
The Red Cross has also reiterated it doesn’t sell donor information, and in May 2015 took the decision not to share individuals’ data with other charities. Data-sharing has been criticised for causing individuals to be ‘bombarded’ with charity appeals over prolonged periods of time.
In a statement announcing its new commitment, the charity said, “we value each and every supporter, and the donations they give enable us to do our life-saving work at home and overseas. It is essential that the public should have confidence in charities and feel assured we are committed to the highest standards of fundraising.” The ICO reacted saying the British Red Cross was a good example of its work ‘with companies who want to get it right.’
Charities have also been urged this week to review other fundraising activities, especially street and door-to-door collections by so-called “chuggers.” This review should also assess promotional deals, such as those with credit card providers or energy companies. Charities are being warned by the Charity Commission that action will be taken if they fail to comply with these guidelines. The Commission’s Chairman William Shawcross said, “it cannot be right for vulnerable people, older people, generous people, to be hounded on the telephone, through the letterbox or in the street.”
The information provided and the opinions expressed in this document represent the views of the Data Protection Network. They do not constitute legal advice and cannot be construed as offering comprehensive guidance on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or other statutory measures referred to.