Proposed EU data protection rules

Proposed EU data protection rules could destroy mailing lists relied on by charity fundraisers, and would present “the biggest challenge in fundraising for a generation”, according to a report published by marketing agency Medialab.

The EU has announced plans for a comprehensive reform of data protection rules, which will require individuals to give explicit consent before a company or charity can process their personal data. The rules could come into force as early as 2017.

At present, direct mail and telephone fundraising use an opt-out method, where charities can presume they can contact donors unless asked not to. Email and text fundraising use a “soft opt in”, where charities can contact donors who have expressed interest, have been given an option to opt out, and are being contacted about similar opportunities.

The report, entitled The European Union & Data Protection: The Biggest Challenge in Fundraising for a Generation?, states that if the rules change, fundraisers will find it much more difficult to collect and use donor data for appeals.

The report states that if the proposals go ahead, charities will be unable to use donor data for profiling, potentially including IP addresses, which identify any device that connects to the internet. This would make web analytics extremely difficult.

The report states that charities should support work being done by the Institute of Fundraising, which is campaigning for the introduction of less stringent proposals. But it also states they must also ensure they are compliant with current data protection rules, and must model how they would cope with future changes.

To download the report visit