5 Best Practices for Ethical Online Fundraising
Most fundraisers know about the Donor Bill of Rights created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, yet do you also know about the eDonor Bill of Rights?
Online giving has added new and unique challenges to maintaining ethical practices, so it may be time to refresh your approach.
As technology develops, so do many issues around privacy, communication and safety. How can we help protect donors’ rights in the online world?
While navigating the ethics of online giving can seem daunting, AFP’s eDonor Bill of Rights sets forth a series of principles that can serve as guidelines for fundraising in the digital age.
Here are five best practices drawn from those guidelines that will help you both protect your donors and build your organization’s reputation as a safe and trusted recipient of online giving.
1. Establish Your Identity
If you want donors to give, they first need to know who you are and what you’re about. On your website and other electronic fundraising materials, be sure that your organization's name, nonprofit or for-profit status, mission and purpose are all visible and easily accessible. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites overlook these basics.
Including this information upfront is the first step to honest communication with donors and to establishing yourself as a real enterprise they know, trust and will engage with. Having a friendly, short, warm video of your agency’s spokesperson on the homepage helps a lot, too.
2. Clear and Current
Make sure that your sponsors and partners included on your website are up-to-date and accurate. Content more than six months old should be refreshed or removed.
And if you’re a nonprofit, be clear about your status and what tax deductions are available to your donors and show where the funds go by posting your annual report or having easy access to your Form 990.
Organizations should make sure gifts are only used for the purposes they’re given. But online donations—especially gifts made through third-party fundraising sites—add extra layers (and fees) to the donation process that need to be disclosed.
If online donations are processed through a third party, make it clear on your online donation forms (including any associated fees), so donors know exactly where their money is going—and who else has their information.
Because Google knows where we live, what we do and how we spend our money, keeping information private might seem like an exercise in futility. But, perhaps because of these difficulties, being open about your organization’s privacy policies is more important than ever.
Don’t automatically sign donors up for every mailing list you have. Instead, give donors the option to opt-in to receive unsolicited communications. And if you’re planning to sell, rent or transfer your data lists for some extra cash or to partnering organizations, make sure donors know about it—and give them the option to opt-in or out.
This kind of transparency will build trust with your donors and help you cultivate ongoing relationships that make sustainable giving possible.
We welcome your thoughts about how you are proactive about online ethical behavior. Please contact us at www.lapafundraising.com.
Laurence is author of "The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution," the first book on fundraising ever published by the American Management Association. He is chairman of LAPA Fundraising serving nonprofits throughout the U.S. and Europe.