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Peak fundraising bodies call for renewed commitment to donor privacy

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In the first major partnership between the two organisations, Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) and the Public Regulatory Fundraising Association (PFRA) have committed to putting donor privacy at the top of the fundraising agenda for 2021.

Working with stakeholders from across the sector, including charities and both fundraising and data agencies, FIA and PFRA are today releasing an ambitious privacy and data toolkit for their members.

“If a charitable organisation fundraises, it usually needs to collect information and data about donors. With that work comes stringent legal and ethical responsibilities. Fundraisers must make privacy a priority to maintain public confidence in charities and no-profit organisations entrusted with personal information,” said Katherine Raskob, FIA CEO.

“We want Australian charity fundraising to set the gold standard for protecting donors’ information. Trust is a valuable asset and one that charities must guard at all times. By developing these practical tools, we are taking a big step forward to ensuring greater consistency across our collective membership,” said Peter Hills-Jones, PFRA CEO.

The toolkit was developed by the FIA/PFRA Data Reference Group, a group of fundraisers and suppliers to the sector. It contains information to ensure compliance with Australian Privacy Law and avoid situations where personal data may be compromised. It includes a data explainer guide and self-assessment questionnaire, notification statement update, and a privacy policy template.

The data explainer guide features information about third-party data collection and a questionnaire on whether data can be used for communicating with donors. The privacy policy and various notification statements outline best practice around collecting, storing, use and disclosure of data.

The group sought to identify gaps in compliance with existing privacy and data legislation and regulations related to charitable fundraising. The measures are designed to help fundraisers comply with all relevant laws governing the collection, storage and use of donor information.

Raskob noted that the Office of the Information Commissioner had signalled its intent to strengthen online privacy protections and update the Privacy Act.

“The Australian Government is also reviewing the Privacy Act, and there will likely be increased protections for consumers around data. Fundraisers need to be ready for any potential changes and ensure they are undertaking best practice around protecting their donors’ information,” she said.

Beyond legal requirements, however, there are community expectations about how fundraisers manage donor privacy. Donors are increasingly wary of giving out their personal information due to the potential risk of it being shared with others without their consent and with the rise in online scams and hacking during the pandemic.

The PFRA/FIA toolkit was launched during Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) — 3-9 May. Both organisations have long been supporters of PAW, whose 2021 theme is “Make Privacy a Priority.”

FIA and PFRA members can download the tools on the FIA and PFRA websites in their respective member resource areas.

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