General Data Protection Regulation

Leading Fundraiser Criticizes ICO Draft Guidance On GDPR

In a new blog published on his website this week, Ken Burnett, a leading UK fundraising consultant has said that the new draft guidance by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) on the forthcoming European Union General Data Protection Regulations could be disastrous for many charities and could destroy donor fundraising in some.

Who Is Ken Burnett?

Ken Burnett is an author and lecturer as well as being one of the leading fundraising consultants in the UK, advising charities and nonprofit organisations on a range of topics such as fundraising, communications and marketing. A fellow of the Institute of Fundraising he is also an honorary fellow of The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and has been involved with numerous charities and nonprofit organizations including:

  • ActionAid
  • BookAid
  • International Fundraising Group
  • UK Disasters Emergency Committee
  • Amnesty International

Appointed to the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing, in 2011 he was voted by readers of the UK’s Fundraising magazine as the most influential individual in British fundraising.

The Opt-In Issue

The issue that Ken Burnett is raising concerns the Information Commissioner’s reading of some of the General Data Protection Regulations and how they have interpreted the issue of ‘opting in’ in their draft guidance that has recently been issued. In the draft guidance, the ICO have said that “all consent must be opt-in consent – there is no such thing as ‘opt-out consent’”. Burnett argues in his blog that this could bring significant harm to many organisation’s fundraising:

“The threat of opt in has been around for decades. Effective self-regulation might have kept it at bay but many believe our sector has failed to make self-regulation work and now, unless we take concerted action, those who depend upon charities and their services may be about to pay the heaviest possible price for that failure.”

Burnett points to some very specific problems that could occur under the new regulations:

“…fundraisers won’t be able to contact donors who have not opted in to receive communications informing them about what the charity has done with their gifts. Who does that help? As many donors happily let their direct debits run indefinitely, most who don’t hear from the charity will assume they’re either ungrateful or can’t be bothered to acknowledge their gifts, or they’ll simply forget about their giving entirely. How can this be in the interests of a good donor experience?”

Burnett has also called for charities to be given more time to adapt to changes in data protection regulations. If not, it could severely hamper their efforts to raise funds and operate effectively.
Ken Burnett’s concerns of the potential effect on charities of complying with the ICO’s draft interpretations of the new EU General Data Protection Regulations echo that recently made by the Institute of Fundraising and the Direct Marketing Association. The Institute of Fundraising have raised concerns over what constitutes consumers opting in and opting out and the Direct Marketing Association have directly questioned the Information Commissioner’s Office’s interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulations concerning opting in and opting out.

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