Charities wealth screened ‘without any thought’ for donors, says ICO

27 Feb 2017 News

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner has said that charities carried out wealth screening “without any thought of what would-be donors might think”. 

In a speech to the Direct Marketing Association on Friday, Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said the ICO’s investigation into charities had implications for other sectors. 

She said the ICO had found that practices relating to how lists were pulled together “undermined fundamental privacy rights of donors”. 

“I’m talking here about wealth screening or prospect research, without any thought of what would-be donors might think,” she said. “Of not accepting that a customer doesn’t want to provide a phone number, and going out to find a way to get hold of that information anyway. And of buying and selling lists of potential customers like they were a basic commodity.”

Would put donors off 

Denham also responded to criticism from fundraisers, who believe that what the ICO is asking could reduce donations.  

“One charity complained to my office that what we were asking them to do around wealth screening – expecting charities to tell people that they would use their personal data to get more information, and ultimately rank donors based on how much they earned – would put people off giving their details in the first place,” she said. 

“But that’s the point.”

Her speech to the DMA came a couple of days after a charged event in Manchester to discuss data protection issues with charities and other regulators. Video from the event is now available on the ICO’s website


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