The Battle Between Privacy and Donor Prospecting
Have you heard of “social Wi-Fi”? I was at a holiday gathering, speaking to someone who works at a well-known nonprofit. She was describing an event they had recently hosted and some of the new technologies they were testing for donor prospecting.
One tool was particularly exciting to her because it gave her a list of wealthy, interested people, complete with email addresses, names, personal interests and profile photos. She works in major giving, and the event was designed to attract high-flying young people in her community. She had the list in her inbox the morning after the event!
The technological wizardry that created this list was easy to implement. All the guests had to do was log in to the Wi-Fi network provided at the venue. There was a contest designed for the evening, which involved watching some videos on smartphones to encourage guests to use the Wi-Fi, rather than the slower cellular-data network connection.
The only way to access the Wi-Fi was by using Facebook Login, since the Wi-Fi was being provided to the charity by a “social Wi-Fi” technology vendor.
You may have experienced Facebook Login when you have downloaded a new mobile app or tried to create an account on a website. Facebook Login allows you to use your existing Facebook account and password, rather than create a new login and password combination, which many people forget. These days most people already have a Facebook login and password. Even if they’re not frequent Facebook users, they are able to remember their login credentials.
The promise of convenience from Facebook Login comes with a cost of data. Though I won’t get too technical in this column, I will try to provide the reader with a sense of the depth and breadth of information most people divulge when they use Facebook Login to access your website, mobile app or Wi-Fi.
Facebook requires that anyone wishing to access Facebook data must submit for review by Facebook, with three exceptions: public profile, email and user friends. In other words, these three requests are so commonplace that asking for them is part of a user’s normal routine and does not require review by Facebook. Furthermore, and I’m quoting Facebook’s guide to permissions: “On the Web, public profile is implied with every request and isn’t required, although the best practice is to declare it. On iOS and Android, you must request it as part of your login flow.”
In fact, a person must share public profile data in order to use Facebook Login. Do you know what makes up your “public profile” data on Facebook? I didn’t realize that my public profile data on Facebook contains my profile picture, ID, first name, last name, age range, link (meaning a link to my Timeline), gender, locale and time zone.
For those willing to submit for review by Facebook, there are many additional data elements that can be gained from Facebook Login, including but not limited to: month and date of birthday, list of favorite books, list of fitness activities (including runs, walks and bikes), list of likes on Facebook, political affiliation, religious affiliation, photos, educational history, gaming activity (including high scores and leaderboard activity), relationship details, work history, etc.
Back to the holiday-party conversation: I asked her if many people used Facebook Login to access the Wi-Fi. “Many people did,” she replied enthusiastically. “Particularly the younger people in the crowd.” Though much of the evidence is anecdotal, it seems younger audience members are very willing to share personal information if you give them something they want in return—in this case, high-speed Wi-Fi.
As your organization continues to find new ways to interact with your audience online, it’s important to be aware of tools that can help you build an effective prospect list. Facebook Login is an example of a new tool that you can use for your website, mobile app or Wi-Fi at a physical event. But just because you can ask for this information doesn’t mean you should. As with everything else in relationship-building, it’s important to balance a respectful approach to privacy with a fundraiser’s desire for more information.
Philip King is founder of The Donation Funnel Project, an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. He is a regular contributor to NonProfit PRO.