Data Security

Free — for Real
January 1, 2007

Through a program called Free is Free, e-mail security software is free for the taking for nonprofit organizations small and large that provide things such as food, medicine, shelter, emergency services and education to children in need.

The program is being offered by Newburyport, Mass.-based e-mail security company Declude. It was inspired by an encounter that Declude CEO Rich Person had with Pennye Nixon-West, founder of ETTA Projects, a Seattle-based organization that provides education, economic opportunities, food and health care to help Bolivian mothers feed their families and escape poverty.

Mom Knows Best
January 1, 2007

 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: Lesson ONE 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,

Six Considerations for Strengthening Information Security
September 26, 2006

Individuals in today’s workplace, whether nonprofit or for-profit, often make two common errors when thinking about privacy and information security. First, people tend to think of information security as a technology problem — making it all about firewalls and encryption. Designing a truly secure information-handling system instead requires a holistic approach that uses technology components but that first must address business processes, policies and, most importantly, people. Many serious and successful hacking attempts begin with what hackers refer to as “social engineering” — they compromise the human components of the information system rather than the electronic ones. Second, people often think of information

Take Four: Maintaining Privacy and Protecting Data at Colleges and Universities
September 26, 2006

The white paper “Striking a Balance: Privacy and Data Protection Strategies for Higher Education” by Trusted Network Technologies and made available by Knowledgestorm looks at the challenges universities face in protecting the privacy of their faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors while making their information available to those who need it. From February 2005 to June 2006, there were 68 breaches of personal digital information at U.S. universities and colleges, the paper reports. In the face of this negative publicity, colleges and universities are faced with the challenge of maintaining the trust of alumni and donors, as well as students, parents and faculty. Trusted

Make Privacy a Public Matter
September 26, 2006

“Collection of personal information is at the very foundation of a nonprofit’s success, for sure, but they also have the duty to protect that information.” This according to Katrin Verclas, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, a San Francisco-based professional community that connects people involved in nonprofit technology. Nonprofits collect all sorts of private information about their constituents, such as their home addresses; home phone numbers; work phone numbers; e-mail addresses; and details about their interests and family status, etc. Having that information is extremely important for any kind of nonprofit success and effectiveness, Verclas says. The more you know

Mutual Trust Is a Must
September 1, 2006

Every day we hear about the lack of trust between nations, between citizens and their governments, between employees and customers, customers and corporations, and between individuals. Advances in technology have aggravated the problem by making it easy for individuals and organizations to steal or misuse sensitive information.

Not to Be Indelicate, but …
November 1, 2005

More than 50 million consumers have had their personal data compromised this year, a statistic grim enough to elicit spasms of paranoia in donors’ hearts about identity theft, data security and privacy. But, in reality, there have been few cases of privacy infringement reported in the nonprofit world — not enough to spawn a skittish donor pool.

It does, however, raise two important questions for nonprofit fundraisers. First, with the explosive growth in data collection and compilation, to what extent is it moral, ethical or legal to mine data on potential donors? And secondly, what proactive measures can be taken to safeguard donor privacy?

Is It Time for a Check-up?
July 1, 2005

In every nonprofit’s life, there comes a time when questions arise about the general health of its database.

This could come as a result of a new initiative to push the organization ahead. It could stem from a mandate to raise additional funds within a certain period of time. It could be a desire to increase brand awareness among donors and prospects. Or perhaps the organization has recognized the need to identify, communicate and track its audiences’ activities.

Are you prepared for a disaster?
May 1, 2004

Many organizations, such as the American Red Cross and CARE, provide relief services to communities in severe situations. But when it comes time to address the possibility of being victims themselves, many nonprofits become proverbial ostriches with their heads in the sand, writes Michael K. Robinson, IT director at full-service fundraising firm Creative Direct Response, in his new book, “Disaster Recovery Planning for Nonprofits.”

Despite Exemption, Charities Experience Do-Not-Call Fallout
March 1, 2004

“Is it the end of the line for fundraising by phone?” was what many nonprofit organizations were pondering last year when more than 48 million Americans signed up for the National Do-Not-Call Registry. While the law clearly stipulates that charitable and political calls are exempt, many members of the public still are unaware of the distinction.

A Harris Interactive poll of 1,011 people in August 2003 found that 37 percent thought that the federal do-not-call list also applied to charity calls.