NCVO working group on opt-in publishes ten principles for contacting donors

16 May 2016 News

The chair of an NCVO working group to develop recommendations on how charities should manage fundraising relationships, has published ten principles that should govern donor contacts.

Mike Adamson

The chair of an NCVO working group to develop recommendations on how charities should manage fundraising relationships, has published ten principles that should govern donor contacts.

 Mike Adamson (pictured), chair of the British Red Cross, listed ten principles which will guide the group’s final recommendations, including for donors to be able to “easily express their preferences about how they wish to be contacted” and that charities must “not presume that consent lasts forever”.

Adamson acknowledged that the group’s recommended changes are “unlikely to have a full consensus” in the sector.

“Some of the recommendations will be challenging for all of us and will almost inevitably lead to a drop in our income, at least in the short term until we develop new approaches to develop deeper, more ensuring relationships with donors,” he said.

“But we also need to accept that the time has come to take a leap and put our donors’ wishes first.”

Adamson said the group’s vision was “a world where donors and potential donors have meaningful control of their relationships with the charities they support”.

“The key building block of our recommendations is the concept of ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent’. Our aim is to ensure that such quality of consent is secured for all our fundraising communications,” he said.

The finished proposals will first be submitted to NCVO’s board of trustees for sign off. They will then be submitted to the Fundraising Regulator and included in any updated Code of Fundraising.

New EU rules on the management of data will come into effect in May 2018.

“This marks the start of a countdown towards a new regime of data protection that focuses on ensuring people have real choice and better control of how their data is used,” said Adamson. “Two years may seem like a long time but the changes that will be required are considerable and preparations need to start now.”

Working group's guiding principles

  1. Donors and potential donors must be able to easily express their preferences about whether and how they wish to be contacted by the charities they support, including whether they wish to stop being contacted.
  2. Charities must respect individuals’ preferences and ensure they can update or confirm their preferences at regular intervals appropriate to the nature of the contact and channel.
  3. If a donor or supporter tells an organisation that they don’t want to be contacted (at all or in a certain way), the organisation must take notice and honour the request.
  4. Charities must respect the privacy of their donors and potential donors, and must never engage in the following when fundraising:
    •    selling donor data
    •    exchanging donor data
    •    telephone cold calling
  5. Charities must not presume that consent lasts forever, and must ensure consent is appropriately refreshed. The period within which consent must be refreshed may vary according to the intrusiveness of the channel of communication, nature of the institution or type of engagement involved.
  6. Charities must be transparent in their use of data, ensuring donors and potential donors can easily understand what is happening with their data.
  7. Charities must handle donor information in a safe, secure and sensitive way, demonstrating they can be trusted to handle personal data.
  8. When charities secure donor data for fundraising purposes from a third party, they must ensure that appropriate quality assurance measures are in place, so that donors and potential donors have been able to express their preferences about whether to be contacted.
  9. When charities use external suppliers to contact current or potential donors, they must take full responsibility for the way in which these contacts are handled, as if they were doing it themselves, and ensure a comprehensive quality assurance framework is in place to oversee it.
  10. Charities must only keep donor information for as long as necessary. They must establish appropriate retention periods and set up a process for deleting personal information once it is no longer required.