In 1999, the CEO of Sun Microsystems said, “You have no privacy … Get over it.” In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg declared that privacy was dead. I think Zuckerberg must feel a certain irony about what he has experienced this year about privacy and the transfer of information from Facebook users to Cambridge Analytica. I think it’s fair to say that this year, privacy has been a hot topic.

I’m not sure where things will ultimately end up, and there’s a good chance that privacy as we knew it is indeed over. In fact, I think that may already be the case, but there is a clear tension between privacy and sharing. We continue to willingly share our information on social media platforms, and browsers, like Google, continue to track us all over the Internet.

And despite the General Data Protection Regulation, which became law in Europe, but also affects American businesses and nonprofits, you’ve probably already noticed that corporate lawyers have already figured out how to get around it. For the most part, you accept the tracking, or whatever else they have explained in their Terms of Service, or you will not be able to use the platforms that will provide you with the news, allow you to shop or entertain yourself. That went well.

Donor privacy

The dirty little secret in the nonprofit sector is that many nonprofits have donor information, including that of volunteers and supporters, but have not taken the necessary steps to ensure that the information is not stolen. They also don’t take the time to inform people about how their data is being used, which is something everyone with a website should do. Nonprofits have information like names, addresses, emails, dates of birth, credit cards, social security numbers (especially those organizations that have volunteers going through background checks), phone numbers, etc. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this information can be used in inappropriate ways.

In fact, a colleague of mine who worked in the nonprofit sector as a fundraising consultant told me not long ago that when she raised the issue of privacy, many nonprofit leaders told her that they did not know that the privacy of donors are a priority for them. donors. They have voiced support for transparent public privacy policies, but had no idea that they should have donor terms of service or privacy policies that are easily accessible on their websites, for example explaining what they do with the data. . I honestly don’t know how that can be a credible thought in today’s world.

Data and non-profit organizations

Most donors should know or understand that when they provide their information to a non-profit organization, there is a possibility that their name and information will be sold. Some nonprofits do this as a matter of income because they make money from the names and data they sell to brokers. If you work for one of the many organizations that sell donor data to intermediaries, as a point of integrity and ethics, you should clearly state that information for donors in your donor policy information.

Also, in recent years, criminals have come to realize that non-profit organizations can be a wealth of information and it can be reasonably easy for them to open the “safe.” And, to make matters even more concerning for non-profit donors, there have been cases where donor information has been criminally compromised, and it has been decided not to make the information public for fear that it will run out. donations.

Data Protection

Nonprofits occupy a unique position in our society and often have tax-exempt status, primarily because of the work they do to improve the lives of people in a community. Because of this, nonprofits must provide some minimum reporting standards to ensure that they are operating with integrity and ethics when accepting information from donors and volunteers.

  • They can remind people who enter their identifying information on their websites to remember to delete web “cookies”, which are files stored on a person’s computer, that link to the site visited. By erasing this information, traces of names, addresses, credit card information, etc. will be removed. of the web.
  • Nonprofits are required to create and post a “Donor Privacy Policy” that tells them how donor and sponsor information will be used. Charity Navigator provides a simple example.
  • Post “Terms of Service”. Take a look at examples of leading nonprofits. You can also see an example from the National Council of Nonprofits or TopNonprofits.

The reality is that all nonprofits, regardless of size, should have a donor privacy policy and terms of service that can be quickly reviewed on their website. If your organization hasn’t done the basics, there’s no reason you should expect people to support your group. There are likely many charities that demonstrate transparency and should be rewarded with fundraising dollars.

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