Friday, February 22, 2013

Donor Privacy is Where It's At

As the Marketing and Development Specialist here at the Council, it’s my job to make sure the community feels comfortable funding the work that we do. The support we get from our donors powers our progress and protects our mission; you are as much a part
of our work as we are. Our donors help us build capacity in the nonprofit sector; they determine how widely we can deliver our services and how many nonprofits can Meet Standards. For these reasons, I won’t compromise when it comes to protecting our donors. 

We hear from individuals every day who are overwhelmed by the number of solicitation letters they receive from various nonprofits. They’re frustrated and confused, wondering what to do and how their name got on so many mailing lists. Oftentimes, donors don’t realize that they can request only one solicitation per year, or that their name can be removed from a list altogether. Supporters want to make careful decisions about who to fund and how to do that, and we need to find ways to show how important that support is to us.

Here at the Charities Review Council, we have 27 Accountability Standards, but our Donor Privacy Standard is my very favorite. While each and every standard is an important piece of the puzzle, the mutual respect, warmth, and sense of security conveyed by our donor privacy Standard makes me feel like I’m curled up in a blanket with my favorite book next to a roaring fire on a frigid Minnesota evening. But seriously, protecting donor privacy is the least we can do to show how much we value the people who believe in our mission.

The Donor Privacy Standard requires that: 
  • organizations have a privacy policy available explaining how donor information is collected and used;
  • donors are able to prevent their information from being shared upon request;
  • organizations include a discontinue contact policy to guarantee that donors are removed from solicitation lists when requested. 

These policies can look a little bit different depending upon the nonprofit in question. Organizations may include their donor privacy provisions in a Donor Bill of Rights, in regular communication to the donor (e.g. giving envelope), or in a website privacy policy. Be sure to ask your favorite nonprofit about its policy. Find more information on policy requirements on our website.

Like many organizations, here at the Council, we take all donor requests seriously and have a system in place to guarantee that personal information, solicitation and contact preferences are tracked and updated with timeliness and precision.

As organizations who wish to do community good, it is our duty to protect the generosity of those individuals who donate money, resources, and time to us by guarding (and guaranteeing!) their privacy. And as donors, we need to advocate for ourselves to make sure that the letters in our mailboxes come from organizations that ensure the safety and privacy of our protected information.

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