The Changing World of Fundraising Regulation: what we learnt at Bold, Brave & Compliant

By Maria Thomas on

With only 6 months to go until the new General Data Protection Regulations come into force on 25th May 2018, there were a lot of emotions flying around Bristol’s Watershed venue – a mixture of anticipation, nervousness and just plain old confusion. Which was why clarification around GDPR with a focus on the arts and cultural sector was badly needed.

The IoF’s Culture Sector Network in partnership with Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy, came together on 9th November 2017 to discuss and review this new EU law. A sold-out event of fundraisers and practitioners from cultural charities from across the UK, meant the day started off amidst a buzz of conversation airing some of the confusion we’ve all been feeling. Opened by Martin Kauffman, Chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s Culture Sector Network and Michelle Wright, CEO of Cause4, the amount of change the sector has experienced in the last 12 months such as the launch of a new Fundraising Regulator and creation of a Code of Fundraising Practice was made strikingly clear.

Lhosa Daly, Deputy Director of Spike Island acted as Conference chair. It kicked off with a keynote address from Amanda Bringans, Director of Fundraising at British Heart Foundation sharing her personal experience of compliance. This was a fascinating insight into how a large charity has dealt with high-profile complaints and highlighted to many the importance of why improved fundraising practice is so vital.

An impressive panel addressed what the legislation really means for our sector with Stephen Dunmore (CEO, Fundraising Regulator) explaining that compliance is not just about data protection but above all about using data to deliver fundraising in an excellent way. “Keeping your database at the highest possible quality so you can get the maximum mileage out of it and out of your supporters and the fundraising exercise as a whole.”

Lawrie Simanowitz’s (Partner, Bates Wells Braitwaite) knowledge on the legal ramifications proved to be extremely useful for all in the room, with his follow on 1:1 sessions fully booked later that day. He cautioned against the cost of compliance versus the cost of “best practice” advising delegates to work out what this meant for their own organisation in real terms and what resources were needed to put processes in place. Lottie Donovan, Head of Development at Watershed, explained how fundraising activities should be based on the values of each organisation when dealing with compliance, and Samir Savant, offered thoughts on compliance from the perspective of a very small charity and the disproportionate impact this may have. Finally Kerry Rock from Prospecting for Gold discussed wealth screening and profiling with a focus on the importance of justification when researching and using personal information.

The afternoon enabled delegates to attend 2 break-out sessions. Leo Sharrock from The Audience Agency simply translated GDPR compliance into a 4-step plan:

  1. Audit
  2. Review
  3. Plan and Document
  4. Check legal review

His approach for front line customer facing organisations was about being clear on how consent was gained, no use of pre-ticked boxes! And to be specific about what data is collected and why and how individuals would be contacted (email, telephone, post etc.), always ensuring the right to opt out/unsubscribe. Chris Rainford (Buffalo Fundraising) expanded this further with a specific focus on gaining consent for email and telephone fundraising.

Adrian Beney (More Partnership) and Kerry Rock’s (Prospecting for Gold) session focussed on the changes in Fundraising Regulations around cultivating and soliciting major donors. “You are only ever renting someone’s data”, with Adrian making it clear how important a Privacy Policy is. Implementing a data protection impact assessment would also identify any potential issues that organisations may have around data privacy especially in relation to wealth screening.

Getting the whole organisation involved, especially trustees in compliance (as part of their legal governance requirement) was the theme of Michelle Wright and Pamela Johnson’s workshop from Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy. They offered practical tips for implementing GDPR, from info on Trustee responsibilities in fundraising to guidance for creating an Ethical Fundraising Policy.

The day ended on a high with Lhosa summarising some key learnings.  Arts and cultural organisations have proven themselves to be part of a resilient sector. Knowing what will be successful for each of our organisations in achieving excellence in fundraising, with support and clarity and joined up resources, we can continue to be Bold, Brave and Compliant, in our own artistic way. As Martin Kauffman summed up; “If we put compliance first we fail, if we put compliance as the way we do better fundraising and better relationships, then we succeed”.

AFP will be publishing a GDPR special Now, New and Next in 2018 along with further information, guidance and resources.

Posted by Maria Thomas

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