Concerned About Online Donor Data Security? Try a Private Social Network
It’s interesting to observe how, as online social networkers, we’re being asked to give more and more of ourselves away in return for the access and information we crave. Compelling, though, as these tools are — can we really trust the proprietors of Facebook, Google and Twitter (and the like) to be responsible stewards of our personal data?
There’s a degree to which we understand that, as consumers, entrusting a large for-profit organization with a bit of personal data is the price of convenience. Whether it’s electronic banking or adding an app in Facebook, the pros seem to outweigh the cons.
But what many people do not realize (and your donors may be among them) is the degree to which they are giving tacit permission for the collection of information related to their browsing habits. Here’s just one example of how that works. When you visit websites that offer you the ability to share a Web page on your chosen social-media or bookmarking site — you know, where you see a row of the popular social-media icons at the top — it’s possible that the website is using a free gadget to provide that little piece of functionality. These gadgets are free to the website developer, but they make their money by providing information to online advertisers so you can be presented with appropriate ads.
The same goes for embedding videos on your website — that “share” option is great and convenient, but many do not understand what they’re getting into when they click it.
Many charities make use of the free social-networking tools such as Facebook, and that’s a good thing. It’s important to have a presence there. After all, close to 10 percent of the world’s population is registered, probably including most of your donors. But rather than using it as your main way for engaging them online, have you thought about offering your donors a safer way to engage within the trusted confines of your website on a private social network? A private social network offers all of the functionality of a Facebook or LinkedIn group, but you get to control your brand. It’s an ad-free zone (unless you want to offer “appropriate advertising content” of your own), and no one’s collecting information about your donors for future, unspecified use.
A private social network needs to be hosted and supported but doesn’t get the benefit of advertising income. Therefore, it costs a little to provide one. But providing your own social-networking experience is a powerful statement, and some private social networks have the added benefit of being able to link to your CRM/donor database system, too. Take a look at advsol.com/gosocial to see how some nonprofits are using private social networks.