Professional Comment

Supporting Vulnerable People To Manage Their Contact With Charities: The Role Of The Fundraising Preference Service

By: Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator (

As we mark Carers Week, we are reminded that care workers perform one of the most important jobs in our society, providing assistance, comfort, and kindness to the most vulnerable people in the UK. According to the Kings Fund, 841,000 adults in the UK received adult social care in 2020/2021 with that number only set to rise in the coming years as the number of retirees grows.

Under increasing pressure to maintain a high standard of care for their clients and patients, it’s vitally important that civil society works together to ease the burden on carers and make some of the less thought-about areas of caring more straightforward.

One such area is charitable fundraising. In particular, making sure that people in vulnerable circumstances are supported to give to charity safely because it is vitally important that all charity donors are not at risk of being taken advantage of or feel pressured to give.

To help make sure that charities are only contacting people who want to hear from them, the Fundraising Regulator runs the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). The FPS is the UK’s only official free service that allows people to opt out from receiving direct marketing from multiple charities.

A key feature of the FPS is that it allows individuals, including those who are caring for a vulnerable person, to supress charity communications on behalf of someone else. In fact, around a quarter of people that use the FPS do so on behalf of someone else. This makes it significantly easier to protect adults in care who may suffer from a condition that impacts their ability to make informed decisions about giving to charity.

Using the FPS is also helpful for charities. Without the FPS, a charity may not know a that a person who has previously agreed to be on their mailing list no longer wants to hear from them. When someone uses the FPS, an alert is sent directly to the charity, informing them of the individual’s wishes to stop contact.

We understand that your time as a carer is limited, and that assisting with your clients’ finances is secondary to your other work, but if you suspect that someone in your care is unable to make sound judgements when giving to charity or is overwhelmed by too many mailings, now might be the time to use the FPS. By doing so, you can protect the person you are caring from well-intentioned but inappropriate direct marketing. The FPS will let charities know in a matter of minutes and cut down on the number of donation requests that they may receive by phone, email or in the post.

Before the FPS, people trying to stop direct marketing from charities would have had to contact each one individually. This can be an immensely time-consuming task, as well as a source of stress and worry for those involved. With the FPS it is possible to opt out of communications from up to 10 charities at a time via the online portal or up to 20 via the FPS telephone line.

It may be that financial support is outside the scope of work you perform with a client, but, as you know, carers are one – vital – part of the support network on which vulnerable individuals rely. If the friends and relatives of those in your care express concern about charity communications, please do inform them of the Fundraising Preference Service.

Together, we can ensure that charitable fundraising always happens in a way that is open, honest, respectful and takes particular care of people in vulnerable circumstances.