ICO issues new guidance on direct marketing by ‘electronic mail’

The ICO has issued new guidance on direct marketing using ‘electronic mail’ and it may affect how you fundraise, and how your IT systems need to record details of preferences.

The new guidance was launched on 21st October 2022, and we first previewed it at the ‘Data Protection for Fundraisers’ webinar (which is available on demand for TinoPai members). The laws and regulations have not changed, but the ICO has updated its guidance and all those responsible for Fundraising, IT/CRM and Data Protection need to understand the changes and how it affects you (which it probably does).

We encourage you to review the guidance yourselves at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/guidance-on-direct-marketing-using-electronic-mail/ but the headlines are:

  • ‘Electronic mail’ also includes email and SMS, picture and video messages, voicemail messages, in-app messages and direct messaging on social media.
  • Direct marketing covers all types of advertising, marketing or promotional material including commercial marketing and the promotion of aims and ideals (e.g. fundraising or campaigning). The definition doesn’t cover electronic mail sent for administrative or customer service purposes, provided it contains no promotional content.
  • You don’t need to know the name of the person you are sending the message to for the electronic mail marketing rules to apply, although some rules only apply to individual subscribers (people, sole traders, some partnerships, etc) and not corporate subscribers (companies, LLP’s, etc)
  • If you have collected someone’s contact details from publicly available sources, it’s unlikely that you can use these to send them unsolicited electronic mail marketing. An exception to this might be someone’s business contact details that are on their employer’s website.
  • Referral schemes need to be carefully reviewed.
  • Care is needed when marketing using personal data from professional network sites.

There is much to unpack here, so look out for news of a special webinar and offer of workshops just for your organisation, so we can discuss your specific situations and actions you should take.