The ICO doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to charities and fundraising. Charities are expected to comply with the law the same as all other organisations.
Between 2015 and 2017, the ICO carried out an investigation into practices in charity fundraising and wound up fining 13 charities.
What did these charities do wrong?
The charities were ranking donors based upon their wealth. They hired companies to investigate people’s income, property values, lifestyle and their friends in order to find the most wealthy and valuable donors. The companies also identified the donors that were most likely to leave a charity money in their wills (legacy profiling).
The wealth profiling was unlawful processing as people were oblivious to it.
Scrapping public sources for information about donors
Some of the charities hired companies to find missing or more up-to-date information about their donors. The company would use information given by the donor in order to find further data about them.
This ‘updating’ was unlawful as the charities were collecting information about donors that the donors did not provide. People have a right to limit the amount of data that a charity holds on them.
Sharing data with other charities.
Some of the charities were sharing donor’s details between themselves without the consent of the donor.
The sharing was unlawful as it was done without the consent of the donors. A donor can choose to allow the sharing of her details with other charities but the charity must make it clear who these other organisations are. Some charities were sharing data with multiple other organisations and didn’t keep a record of this sharing – this is also unlawful.