Better attention to privacy can attract more donors
According to Give to the United States, charitable contributions in 2020 exceeded $470 billion, 70% of which came from individuals. Individuals deciding to donate to a particular organization may consider factors beyond the organization’s particular mission, however compelling. Misleading GoFundMe Campaigns, FTC Crackdowns on misleading charities and mismanaged organizations are some of the reasons for increased scrutiny. Another reason is concern over how charities and nonprofits handle donors’ personal information.
According to some reports, a third of donors do research before donating. To help these donors, several third-party rating sites, such as Charity Navigatorthe Wise Giving Allianceand CharityWatch, doing much of the legwork for donors. They collect large amounts of data about these organizations, such as financial status, use of donated funds, corporate governance, transparency, and other practices. They get most of this data from 990 forms and organizations’ websites, where many organizations post privacy policies.
Regulatory compliance obligations for websites have expanded in recent years, with privacy policies among the requirements. However, even a website that complies with applicable regulations may not score optimally with Charity Navigator. For example, in many cases, website privacy statements should only apply to data collected on the website, not elsewhere in the organization. Additionally, website regulations do not require donors to be specifically addressed. the point reduction for non-compliant privacy policies is relatively low for Charity Navigator, but can have an impact. Ratings firm CharityWatch reports privacy policies “as an informational benchmark,” but does not include such information in its ratings.
© 2022 Jackson LewisNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 73