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Accountability is a GDPR requirement that makes sense, but how do we achieve it?


In a recent blog for the Institute of Fundraising, Arc Data founder Suzanne Lewis, who sat on the IoF's focus group for GDPR, says that while the new legislation has had cost implications for fundraisers, it was not the ‘bogeyman’ that many had feared – and that there are real benefits to adhering to these new levels of accountability.

Here’s an excerpt:

We’ve heard a lot about GDPR’s impact on fundraising in its first year, with this month’s Fundraising Convention seeing the release of two benchmarking reports that revealed how it has changed the UK fundraising landscape.

Rapidata issued its 2019 Charity Direct Debit Tracking Report that shared how donor recruitment stalled during 2018 but returned together with lower than usual cancellation rates in early 2019, implying perhaps improved quality levels post GDPR. Echoing these findings, the IoF and Blackbaud Europe’s Status of UK Fundraising Benchmarking Report indicated that while the new legislation certainly had cost implications for fundraisers, it was not the ‘bogeyman’ many had feared. In fact, the majority said it had also made them think differently about their engagement strategies.

So, all in all, there has been considerable reshaping and positive outcomes for fundraising; the charity sector seems to have handled the implementation of GDPR.

But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. At the recent Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said we were at a critical stage with the legislation. The crucial change it had brought, Denham said, was its requirement for accountability, with the legal onus firmly on organisations to understand the risks they create for others in processing data, and to ensure that they mitigate those risks.

And yet she added, while data protection should therefore now be part of every organisation’s cultural and business fabric, the ICO does not yet see this happening, and this includes among charities. 

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Stuart Townsend