Privacy and Charity Fundraising Agencies

It’s dinner time, you’ve just sat down to eat – and the phone rings, it’s one of those pesky callers asking if you can help with a donation for some cause.

You often get these calls and help when you’re able, often without asking any questions; however this time you decide to ask “Are you working directly with xyz or are you with a fundraising agency?” – the caller is silent for a moment then says yes she is with an agency who were supplied with a list of numbers for people who had completed a survey.

Strange, no survey comes to mind, so a few more questions and it transpires that you had donated to another charity the company calls for … privacy alarm bells ring.

If you’ve given your information for one reason, it can’t be used for another – simple.

It’s important to understand privacy principals …

Principle 1Principle 2Principle 3 and Principle 4 govern the collection of personal information. This includes the reasons why personal information may be collected, where it may be collected from, and how it is collected.

Principle 8 and Principle 9Principle 10 and Principle 11 place restrictions on how people and organisations can use or disclose personal information. These include ensuring information is accurate and up-to-date, and that it isn’t improperly disclosed.

See also

Privacy Padlock


Privacy is something we all worry about, what’s happening to our information, how can we protect the information of others – this simple guide from the Privacy Commissioner helps make sense of what many see as a complicated issue. More …


You walk down the street and get confronted by an organization asking you to sign their petition; you do so only to find out down the track that they have used your information for other purposes – how do you feel?


Did you know that your organization must comply with the Privacy Act 1993 ? Some organizations are unaware of their requirements under the Act, and how they must deal with, treat personal information collected in the course of their work – more

Staff Morale – Is it a reflection on the Organisation?

When was the last time you took a helicopter view of your organisation, taking particular look at your staff?

The way staff interact with each other, the way they speak about the organisation can indicate how they feel about the organisation. Not their job, but about the organisation as a whole.

Staff who don’t speak highly of the organisation may have reasons for this, are they feeling under valued, have they been passed over for promotion?

It is important to look at the picture your staff are painting, if they’re painting an unfavourable picture about the organisation and sharing this with colleagues; they could be “poisoning” others and, there’s also the risk that they’re sharing this outside of work.

If staff are poisoning others, it won’t be long before their negativity rubs off on others, the sooner you spot something and act the better.

Unless you’re in touch with how staff are feeling you’re lost in the dark, you need to be speaking with your staff to hear their views, their opinions about their job, their worth within the organisation and, their overall view about the organisation and the work being it does.

If you’re staff are at the front of the organisation, it may be more important to be listening to what they have to say, if they’re feeling disenfranchised this could come across in their interactions with those they deal with – potentially negatively impacting on service delivery and funding opportunities.

When new staff join an organisation, if there is negativity among staff this can have a detrimental effect on the way new staff interact and perform in their role. If they’re feeling “out of place”, feeling as though they’ve made the wrong choice, it could impact on the employment costs of the organisation; and could even result in action in employment court.

Many companies and, organisations conduct regular performance reviews which is important, however unless these are a two-way process they can miss opportunities, miss indications of low morale in the staff.

Staff reviews should be conducted at least annually, some are conducted every six months; but as a rule, don’t conduct them less than once each year.

And, in between – always – keep an eye and ear out for what staff are saying.

What they are saying could be just what you hear to make changes you’ve been pondering, even negative comments can create valuable opportunities for an organisation to grow and flourish.

Do you conduct staff reviews, if so has there been anything come to light from these that has helped your organisation grow and perhaps change they way things were done?

What gems have you learned from staff reviews?

Donor Bill of Rights

Am sure I shared this before, if so, no harm sharing it again.

Have a read and share your thoughts, is there anything you would add, anything you would change or remove, in the comments below.

Donor Bill of Rights

Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

  1. To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
  2. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
  3. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
  4. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  5. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
  6. To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
  7. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
  8. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
  9. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
  10. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.

The text of this statement in its entirety was developed by the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (AAFRC), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and adopted in November 1993.


See also:

More Openness and AccountabilityNeeded

Collaboration is Needed

It’ s often been said that charities, those in the not for profit sector need to work together, that there should be more collaboration between organisations.

Some figures suggest that there is about 170-odd people for every charity in New Zealand; that’s a staggering ration.

Who would, could collaborate; the simple way of looking at this would be those organisations that are like minded, those who share a common visions, geographical location could also be taken into account. Don’t forget that those organisation sharing a common beneficiary could perhaps work better if they worked together.

With a number of organisations working in similar areas, with similar needs unless there is some form of collaboration the potential is there for some of organisations to cease to exist. The charity “market” is no different to any other market – it’s supply and demand; in the charity sector the “supply” could relate to funding.

Annual street appeals, envelope collections, tele-fundraising campaigns and the like are only some of the ways organisations gain the funds they need to do their work. Most organisations would also be applying for grants, and many “like” organisations would be competing for the same dollar.

This competition for funding is making it harder for organisations to gain the funding required to do the work they’re committed to do; and this has the potential to only get worse.

Already organisations are having to look for other income avenues in order to survive.

But funding is only one area that could benefit organisations who collaborate.

Organisations who collaborate will have opportunities to share stories, ideas, this would help each other gain further insights into the work they do, the “market” and much more … a win all round.

Do you have stories of organisations who are collaborating, how did they start their collaboration – what do the collaborate on, please share your insights.

Charity Muggers – Skills Shortage

After reading “‘Charity muggers’ offered free flights” – I got to thinking about a couple of things here.

Firstly, how can this “group” be seen as having a skills shortage, in essence it’s a sales function – and secondly, does this reflect badly on the companies employing and training “chuggers”?

A skills shortage, I don’t see how – this is a role that with the right training, coaching and support that could be undertaken by almost anyone with an outgoing personality.

Those employing and training “chuggers” need now to look at the way they are doing this.

“Charity marketers and industry watchdogs believe there are not enough experienced bucket rattlers in New Zealand and are asking Immigration NZ for street fundraisers to be added to the immediate skills-shortage list, to make it easier for them to enter the country for work”.

Having done bucket collections, coached people to do this, and having also done “subscription” style supporter acquisition, I will say it’s not for the faint hearted. But, for people with an outgoing attitude, who enjoying talking with others and want to see others helped it can be a rewarding job.

What’s needed is adequate training before people hit the streets, then ongoing coaching on how to interact with others to gain the “sale”.

Give me a team of passionate people who have never done any form of fundraising before and I’ll give you a team of passionate people ready to hit the streets. Immigration doesn’t need to change criteria to “allow” others in to the country to do this work.

What about those organisations who use the likes of “chuggers” through agencies such as Cornucopia – how do they feel about the perceived needs for Immigration to relax it’s rules?

This could easily turn into a PR disaster not only for agencies such as Cornucopia  who supply collectors, but also for those organisations who use these services.

Would you sooner support a kiwi who is doing their bit (for pay) to raise funds and awareness of local organisations, and give locals jobs, or would you sooner locals sidestepped for people arriving – temporarily – to fill vacancies?


You need a Stable Board

Your board, like any other area in your organisation will need to replace or add new members; how you go about finding the right person, introducing them and helping them in their role will have an impact on how they do their ‘job’ and how long they’ll stay.

Like any other function in any organisation, a position description should be put together; outlining what the role is. From this you can’t write a person description, what type of person best suits the role – experience, contacts, abilities; what do they have to have?

Once you have done that, it’s time to start looking; your networks are the first place you should start. Ask around, someone knows someone.

And, like any other role you need to:

Introduce them to the organisation, whether this is possible face-to-face or through other means; ensure they are properly introduced.

Induct them into the organisation, explain the role and all expectations; meeting attendance, availability to attend events etc.

Bring them up-to-date, make sure make the time to tell them where things are at, mid-term goals etc; this will help them hit the ground running.

Some organisation team up a mentor, someone who has experience in the functions of the board and organisation; this is something worth considering especially in larger organisations.

Like all other roles in your organisation, you should be conducting reviews; these are an opportunity for two-way feedback on how the board member is doing, what their take on the role is, and what future plans, goals.

Keep all board members active, involved and encouraged to be part of the organisation; if you want to have a high turnover rate anywhere in the organisation, ignore their views, bore them with aimless tasks and ineffective meetings.

How do you manage new board members? Do you follow the above?

See also:

Does your board expect to be paid

Your board and trustees should be working

Are you supported by your board and staff?

Board Meetings – When do You hold them?

Chuggers – Charity Muggers

Sometime ago I shared a post here that was originally written for 101Fundraising about the way people working to “subscribe” donors on the street behave, how their actions could negatively impact not only on “their” charity but on the sector as a whole.

Recently Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes covered the same topic, it would appear that chugging is still very much in the minds of people – so, here’s what Tim had to say:

Do charities realise the damage street fund raisers do to their brands?

Aggressive charity fund raisers are causing brand damage, argues Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes

The other day I watched an overly aggressive Save The Children ambassador almost knock a cup of coffee from a man’s hand on Sydney’s George Street.

A couple of days after that, I felt thoroughly patronised by an Amnesty International representative during an awkward social exchange in Martin Place.

And last Thursday, a Cancer Council worker rudely interrupted my phone conversation as I walked up Queen Street in Brisbane.

Not that these mercenaries really work for those organisations of course. They’re just wearing the tabards.

Read full article here

More Openness and Accountability Needed

Again, we’re hearing stories about one NZ organization which appears to have not used funds in the way donors had intended. If this is truly the case, and I have no evidence either way other than what I (like you may have read, or heard in the media); then perhaps Charity Services need to look at some random auditing process.

A random auditing process may help stop organizations from using funds for purposes for which they weren’t intended.

One of the ideas behind the Charities Commission, now Charity Services, was to help register and monitor the sector, and an offshoot of this was to help build public confidence in the sector; a sector that generates around billion of dollars annually.

When people hear about things such as the Wellington foodbank it doesn’t foster confidence in the sector and, not only relates to the one organization but, the flow on effect can impact on continued support and giving for other organizations.

In October 2012 I posted Public trust and confidence in charities – survey results, it found “ … that 44% of respondents had a high level of trust and confidence in charities, down by 11% since 2010, and 14% since 2008”, confidence and trust in organizations, knowing that organizations are doing what they set out to do are reasons why people support.

When the public read about funds not getting to where they were intended, or about high overheads, high cost of campaigns etc; it can (and does) turn people away.

Do we, all of us working within the sector owe it to ourselves, and the sector as a whole to look out for one another, to help ensure a high level of accountability. Or do we leave it to others?

How will do the general public know about the role of Charity Services – do the general public know that roles of Charity Services included:

  • Monitoring and investigation of registered charities, and governance and management education and support provided to charities by the Commission
  • The Charities Commission receives and responds to complaints from and about charities

And, that the Charities Register contains the details of all registered charities, including their rules, officers, contact details, and financial information, and is open for scrutiny by members of the public

We always see ads advising people how to make a complaint about something they’ve seen on TV, heard on the radio or in the papers – but, when was the last time you saw how people can make complaints or raise issues with the “governing body” when it comes to charities?

Everyone working in the sector needs to help build and maintain its reputation, perhaps individual members in the sector could as a sign of openness have content on the website or other collateral of how people can ask questions and lay complaints should an organization appear not to be fulfilling its duties and responsibilities.

What are your thoughts?

Funding wows – do you to tell your story

More often than perhaps most realize we’re seeing organizations cutting back in one way or another.

Staff hours are being cut, service delivery is being looked at with the view to reducing hours or services being offered; not only are the staff directly affected but those in need of what organizations offer are also affected – it’s anyone’s guess how far the impact of cut backs flows; it’s likely the cuts could cut deep.

There’s an assumption that the need for cutbacks could have been foreseen, perhaps in some situations that is true, but at a guess not all would have been.

Organizations that have been relient, and almost gauranteed funding from Grants Boards, Trusts appear to have had a rude awakening when they discover that the ‘usual’ funding they had been getting has either been trimmed back or cut completely; often with no forwarning.

Planning should cover most situations, but when an organization has been receiving the same funding from the same source for a long period, the expectation is that it is “money in the bank” – sadly that’s not always the case, and organizations should be prepared with a contingency plan.

Where possible when planning and budgeting contingencies should be a consideration, a “what if” scenario should be in the minds of those responsible for managing an organization. Why some organizations forget this is a mystery.

When funding applications have been submitted and the reject letters arrive it’s in all probablity too late to be thinking “what can we do now” – that should have been in the minds of all concerned before applications were submitted.

A sob story to local media, local business and the community could result in some funding coming through – but it’s a gamble, and one that perhaps shouldn’t be taken.

Why might it be a risk to go to media? Funders may take it ‘personally’ and feel that you are perhaps unappreciative of the support that they may have given previously. Some say, talking to media could ruin any future chances of applications being received in a favourable manner, that they could easily end up in the decline pile without much, if any attention being given to the information contained in it. Perhaps, but in reality funders are aware that applicants struggle for funding and will from time to time talk to media about the difficulties they face, many wouldn’t take it personally, but some may.

In talking about funding issues organizations could likely find that other supporters could come out of the woodwork. People who may not have known the organization even existed, or the extent of the work it does would gain awareness the result of this being that support could come from places not otherwise thought of.

It could be a gamble, but one worth taking – would your organization take the gamble and try to raise awareness of your organization’s plight, or would you feel safer sitting, waiting in the hope that your traditional funders will support you in the next funding round.

Do you have time to wait, or do you have to bite the bullet and tell your story in the hope it will gain you the support you need to continue delivering the services you provide?

Telling your story could open a door (wallet) you may not have been able to open before; sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do it, but be careful you don’t put down support or supporters – remember you may need them again. Diplomacy and tact is needed.

How can supporters maintain contact when …

It’s surprising how often that I either hear or have the experience myself – you send an email to a contact at an organization and get an automated reply “sorry that mailbox is no longer active” – or something similar.

You quickly check you have it right, your go back through emails double checking only to find you have the details right.

A phone call soon clears up the confusion, the person you’ve been trying to contact has left.

Imagine how supporters feel when they get an automated response saying the person they want to contact is no longer available, do you think they’ll spend time trying to track the right person down, will they even bother checking to see if the email address they’ve sent something to was right – chances are they won’t.

Why would any organization leave themselves open to being ‘shut off’ from supporters?

How would you feel if someone tried contacting your fundraising or sponsorship manager to discuss a possible donation, and all they got was an error message in response to their email; would they think – oh, lets try that again, or would they give up and look for another organization?

Can you afford for potential supporters to wander off – NO. 

Make it easy for people to stay in touch, when key staff leave, don’t deactivate their email address immediately, have it routed to go to someone else.

If you don’t know how to do this, check help in any email programme you’re using – it’ll save you time, money and opportunities – see it as an investment in the future.

And, make sure you have a succession plan for every key staff member, not just for the CEO, CFO – but every key staff member.