The number of Save the Children supporters choosing to opt out from receiving its communications grew by a factor of 12 after it changed its consent messages, according to the charity’s written evidence to MPs.
Sir Alan Parker, chair of Save the Children UK until September, wrote in his evidence submitted to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in November, that a reworking of the organisation’s opt in/out messages saw opt-out rates rising by 55 percentage points.
“Following the changes we introduced through our Supporter Promise – the reworking of our opt in/opt out messages,” wrote Parker. “Have resulted in our opt out rate, at the point of sign up, going from under 5 per cent to 60 per cent”.
The rise in the number of opt-outs proved that reforms such as those made by Save the Children "can and do work", he wrote. It is unclear what effect this increased opt-out rate has had on Save the Children’s ability to raise funds.
Parker also wrote that, while Save the Children had not been specifically mentioned by the Daily Mail in any of its articles, the newspaper’s investigations “revealed some serious failings in the systems of check and monitoring” and shocked the charity’s trustees, “especially as we had used GoGen and Listen”.
Parker also wrote that the organisation has created a new role within the charity – supplier quality manager – to effectively act as a mediator between the trustee board and the communications and fundraising departments in order to provide “better visibility of what is happening in Save the Children’s name”.
George Kidd, chair of the working group tasked with implementing the Fundraising Preference Service, said at last week’s fundraising summit that he was “instinctively an opt-out person” but said that the onus will be on the sector to prove that it is robust enough to protect the public.
"If you want to prove that opt-in is wrong, you’ve got to prove why opt-out is right," he said. "We’ve got to make this work, and if people can’t demonstrate that an opt-out regime can work in the interests of our donors and the public, then the alternative is what it is."