Data issues, charity marketing and beneficiaries

Issues around charity use of supporter data has been hitting the headlines recently. There are a number of relevant news items and articles worth reading.

The Information Commissioner’s Office reiterated at a recent meeting that charities must follow the same rules as everyone else when it comes to direct marketing, including telephone calls. As covered in a WCVA news item, which links to ICO’s Direct Marketing guidance (pdf, 622KB).

Both the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice and the Charity Commission’s ‘Charities and Fundraising’ (CC20) have been updated around telephone fundraising. The latter guidance has been amended to clarify that charity trustees must ensure that any telephone fundraising complies with data protection and Telephone Preference Service legislation. See Civil Society News article. Also see previous VoluntaryNews item ‘Sector bodies to produce joint fundraising guidance‘.

The BBC is one of many news outlets covering this week’s claims about misuse of supporter data,, which are to be examined by the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Fundraising Standards Board. Civil Society News coverage.

To redress the balance, Pioneers Post has an article ‘How charities are using data to do good‘, written by a senior consultant at New Philanthropy Capital (NPC).

NPC has also just published two papers on the safest ways to use and understand charity data. These aim to help charities navigate some of the challenges that the ever increasing flow of data can throw up. These are focused on service users data rather than that on supporters. NPC news release or:

Protecting your beneficiaries, protecting your organisation lists ten ways that charities can safely use the data they have from their beneficiaries, from understanding what personal data they hold to training all staff to treat data safely and securely.

Understanding statistical significance walks charities through their Data Labs initiative and how it can help in understanding  impact. This includes how to interpret results, and whether they are statistically significant or not.

Charities Aid Foundation has also highlighted research showing that the majority of donors want to be kept informed about the work of charities they support. Rather than a simple ‘thank you’ message, people are more likely to value correspondence about how the charity is having an impact and regular progress reports on its work. This is extracted from the already published ‘UK Giving 2014’. CAF news release.