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How the Privacy landscape has changed for Australian Not For Profit’s

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With some people new to the NFP sector, we wanted to highlight the latest change when it comes to the industry and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). So what has changed when it comes to privacy in the NFP industry?

In 2014 changes to the Privacy Act were put in place to include the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). The APPs outline how most Australian government agencies, all private sector and not-for-profit organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3Million, all private health service providers and some small businesses must handle, use and manage personal information.

The APPs are extremely detailed. A quick reference summary of the principles is below or view the full principles:

Overview of APPs

APP 1 — Open and transparent management of personal information

APP 2 — Anonymity and pseudonymity

APP 3 — Collection of solicited personal information

APP 4 — Dealing with unsolicited personal information

APP 5 — Notification of the collection of personal information

APP 6 — Use or disclosure of personal information

APP 7 — Direct marketing

APP 8 — Cross-border disclosure of personal information

APP 9 — Adoption, use or disclosure of government related identifiers

APP 10 — Quality of personal information

APP 11 — Security of personal information

APP 12 — Access to personal information

APP 13 — Correction of personal information

One of the sectors upon which the APPs have had the most significant impact is in the not-for-profit sector where privacy has become a critical issue. Why? Well, because unlike in the “for profit” world, NFPs swap customer data with other NFPs.

Changing times

Back in 2017, ABC News reported that charities were “creating privacy risks by collecting and distributing donor information”.

It’s a familiar scenario for many donors. You donate to one charity and not only do you receive follow-up marketing from that charity but you will also start to receive acquisition mail and calls from other charities. That’s because your data has been released to a co-op (or data pool) and shared or swapped directly with another charity.

The strategy of course being that donor ‘A’ who originally gave to an animal charity (for example) will have a higher propensity to give to another animal charity. So NFPs working for similar causes will swap data and the cost per new lead is extremely low for all parties.

This practice has come under scrutiny in recent years with the most high profile case coming out of the UK. A 92 year old British woman named Olive Cook, reportedly took her own life after she was overwhelmed by nearly 100 charities who mailed her up to 3,000 letters a year requesting her support. It’s reported that about a quarter of the 100 charities had passed on her details to other organisations. It’s argued that Olive Cook fundamentally changed the charity industry in the UK but the impact was further reaching and sent ripples through NFP industries worldwide.

While, the Privacy Act does allow for data exchange, providing that certain disclosures are made, even compliant NFPs will still encounter trust issues when it comes to privacy. The average Australian in 2019 is more aware of privacy than ever before and events such as Privacy Awareness Week only serve to highlight the issue further and increase understanding about what our rights are.

So what can NFPs do to maintain trust with their donor base around privacy?

What can we do

Data accuracy is vital. If a donor has opted out of any form of communication or importantly if they have opted out of having their personal information shared with a third party this must be adhered to and reflected in your database.

It is essential that your database is constantly updated. 100% accuracy in the data provided for swaps or into data co-ops is an absolute must. With mail appeals, as late as the day of lodgement you should still be able to “wash out” any customers or donors who have opted out since you provided your initial mailing data to your mailhouse. Errors with donors receiving appeals that they have opted out of will severely and detrimentally impact donor trust. Work with your mail house to ensure data integrity and that every measure is taken to avoid mistakes because once trust is lost it’s very hard to get back.

Privacy is not something that we can ignore and over time it will only become more regulated to protect everyday Australians. As marketers it is our job to keep on top of our obligations and ensure that we are working in the interests of individuals to ensure their privacy rights are met.

At the core of everything we do, Blue Star DIRECT will maintain your data’s integrity and security as well as your customer’s privacy. Take a look at our compliance page for more information.

Don’t be in the dark when it comes to Privacy!

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