GDPR: What’s in the Red Zone for Monthly Donors?
By now, you’ve all heard of the GDPR. It stands for: The General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is a regulation law in the European Union (EU) on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA).
But do you know what started the GDPR process? It was one older donor who committed suicide after she got totally overwhelmed by the many appeals for money—in the mail, by phone, on the streets.
You may say: ”That’s Europe, that’s not going to affect us here.” Not so fast! Things are changing, and I’m worried that what’s happening in California with data compliance is just the start.
As fundraisers, you’re always walking that fine line between over soliciting and not soliciting enough. You’re always looking to find the best way to make your donors feel good and happy about supporting your cause. You’re trying to find the best way to start, build and maintain a good relationship with your donors. And you’re always trying to balance the budget needs with what’s a realistic amount to raise. It’s not easy.
It’s also important to remember that what some organizations can do can have a major effect on our fundraising industry as a whole.
If someone is found embezzling organization’s funds, that immediately ups the awareness of financial transparency and checks and balances within other nonprofits. If organizations’ officers are found to make outrageous sums of money, that impacts others.
There’s one practice I’ve discovered to do with sustainers I am very concerned about: automatic upgrading. I know a few organizations who do this, and I would highly discourage anybody else from starting it!
Automatic upgrading is the process where the donor’s monthly gift is automatically increased by $2 or $3 every year unless the donor opts out. The organization typically sends an email announcing this (some send a letter), but it’s still an opt-out, which makes for a very BAD donor experience!
They claim the number of people opting out or canceling is small. That may be true, but the reality is, all it takes is one donor who becomes very upset and very vocal about it (or in the case of many older donors, one of the donor’s kids) and sues the organization.
This could impact any and all fundraising as we know it!
Please do yourself and your fundraising colleagues a favor. Do not even think about starting automatic upgrading. Rather, ASK your monthly donors for an upgrade each year, using the channels you have. You’ll get permission. There will a record of the donor saying yes to it, and you’ll actually raise more money!!
You’re better off getting 25 to 35 percent of your donors to upgrade knowingly with higher amounts than you’d originally dreamt of than having one of your donors get so upset that it could ruin the future of monthly giving and fundraising forever! Let’s keep automatic upgrades in the red zone please.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.