Mom Knows Best
OK, OK, I’ll admit it … my mother was right — but, please, don’t tell her!! Turns out that some of the lessons she taught me can apply to the ethical collection and use of personally identifiable data, and other privacy issues. Here’s how:
Don’t talk to a person about something affecting them if they did not personally tell you. Always make sure that you collect information from constituents in an opt-in manner and give donors ample opportunities to help you collect this data. A good example of this is using check-off boxes on event-registration forms, acquisition reply devices, or perhaps even asking individuals who call your 800 number for information and support. Another tip is to remember to do periodic check-off boxes on renewal direct-mail reply slips as well. By re-asking your audience for information, you are helping to develop loyalty and gain trust.
Knock before you enter. This lesson has everything to do with permission marketing. Don’t make the mistake of only finding out what topics your donors are interested in. Be sure you also are finding out how they want to be contacted (e.g., phone, mail or e-mail) — and how often.
If someone confides in you, don’t share that information with anybody. Use your collected data to help aid in fulfilling your mission, and don’t be frivolous with the information you acquire. Personal data should be kept confidential and only used to communicate back to the individual. Under no circumstances should you disclose your information to organizations that rent your list or to corporate sponsors.
Don’t lose someone’s trust — you might never gain it back. Carefully create your appeals to encourage trust among constituents by talking to them like you know who they are and what they’ve told you about themselves. At this stage, if data that has been shared is incorrectly communicated back to the donor, it will raise a big red flag of doubt about your organization.
Treat your family like friends and your friends like family. Customize information based on what the donor has asked you to do. Provide information back to the donor that reflects his or her preferences. By pushing specific information to donors in the way they’ve asked you to, you are respecting their choices, honoring their requests and using best privacy practices.
Don’t assume anything. Don’t just make assumptions about your donor’s preferences based on their giving patterns. Take the extra step to find out more about your donors, and you’ll find that donors are happy to respond if they think the information will make them better consumers, help improve their quality of life, give them some control over their lives and save them time.
So I guess it’s undeniable that the lessons my mother taught me were practical after all. To incorporate them into your direct-marketing efforts start with these simple steps:
● Provide notice to donors about your information practices, what information you collect and how you use the data.
● Provide donors with the opportunity to opt out of the marketing process (direct mail, telemarketing and online offers).
● Obtain donors’ permission (opt-in) for online marketing initiatives.
● Maintain and use an in-house suppression file.
● Use the DMA’s mail, telephone and e-mail preference services to eliminate names of consumers who do not want to receive unsolicited communications.
● Establish and post a privacy/information practices policy on your Web site.
● Integrate the policy throughout the organization (online and offline; all components).
● Communicate the policy to staff, volunteers and donors. u
Joanne DelGiorno is vice president of fundraising innovation for SCA Direct. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.