Data Security

Watchdogs Say: Lax Internal Revenue Service rules help groups shield campaign donor identities
March 10, 2011

American Crossroads GPS, an advocacy group that reported spending about $17 million on advertising before the midterm elections, generated controversy by using its nonprofit status to shield donors' identities.

As it turns out, the Internal Revenue Service hasn't even approved the group's nonprofit status. Crossroads filed an application in September but the agency has not acted on it.

Watchdog groups say that Crossroads and other groups active in campaigns are taking advantage of lax IRS enforcement to offer political donors anonymity.

Conn. university claims donor lists are trade secrets as it fights to block their release
February 15, 2011

The University of Connecticut is fighting in court to prevent the release of lists naming its supporters, arguing they amount to trade secrets that other institutions could use to lure away Huskies fans' dollars and loyalties.

Open-records experts say it's the first time Connecticut's courts will have to decide whether public entities, not just businesses, can invoke a trade-secret exemption to keep information private — even if it was created at public expense.

Offering Donors Secrecy, and Going on Attack
October 12, 2010

The American Future Fund, organized under a tax code provision that lets donors remain anonymous, is one of dozens of groups awash in money from hidden sources and spending it at an unprecedented rate, largely on behalf of Republicans. The breadth and impact of these privately financed groups have made them, and the mystery of their backers, a campaign issue in their own right.

“I think most people are very comfortable giving anonymously,” Mr. Sembler said. “They want to be able to be helpful but not be seen by the public as taking sides.”

Building Trust With Donors: Are You Secure?
July 6, 2010

One thing you learn in management school is that trust, like respect, is given — not taken. It has to be earned over a long period of time and can be easily eroded by a single mishap. That is equally true of the relationship between fundraiser and donor. The fundraiser communicates the need, and the donor trusts the fundraiser as a representative of the cause to be a responsible steward of the donated money. One slip and the donor’s confidence in the cause’s ability to use the gift wisely may be damaged.

FEC: Citizens United Conservative Group Doesn't Have to Disclose Donors
June 14, 2010

The conservative political group Citizens United has won a ruling from federal election authorities that it does not need to disclose the donors that finance its political documentaries. Citizens United successfully argued to the Federal Elections Commission that because it primarily produces films, it should be considered a media organization and be exempted from disclosure requirements for political activist groups.

Planned Giving: Too Much Information?
June 1, 2007

No area of fundraising intertwines development staff and donors in more personal relationships than planned giving.

In many cases, all a prospective donor asks is that a development executive supply generic information about how a particular gift plan might function, what the payment rates or tax deduction might be, or whether an organization can serve as a trustee.

Tips for Creating a Simple Privacy Policy
March 12, 2007

Whether you’re dealing with customers, members, donors or clients, keeping their personal information private, especially in the seemingly insecure environment of the Web, is a key concern. One way to reassure donors that their personal information is secure is to include a privacy policy on your Web site that lets them know things like what information you collect, how that information is used, what happens with cookies, the opt-out process and who to contact with questions about privacy issues. The No. 1 tip offered by the Direct Marketing Association when it comes to constructing a privacy policy is to keep it simple. The

One Nonprofit’s Navigation Through Privacy Issues
March 12, 2007

Having a donor privacy policy on your site is a must for nonprofit organizations collecting donor information online. But having a privacy policy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the whole privacy issue taken care of. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a donor privacy policy and bill of rights posted on its Web site. But Bill Lynerd, chief development officer of the museum, says one thing that’s recently come up for the institution is the question of whether or not it’s a privacy issue to post its annual report — along with the names of donors who contribute $15,00 or more a year

Strategies for Creating and Implementing a Solid Privacy Policy
March 12, 2007

Knowing personal information about constituents in the online sphere allows organizations to provide visitors with more personalized and meaningful communications and services. But with this benefit comes the danger that the personal data you collect could be misused or its security breached. Donors know the dangers inherent in providing an organization personal information and will be reluctant to do it unless the organization can ensure them of its safety and intended use. In the whitepaper “The Growing Concern for Privacy Online” for the National Association of Colleges and Employers Technology Committee, authors Judy Applebaum, Shirley Marciniak and Paula Quenoy recommend that all “Web