What’s Keeping You Up at Night?
Although I am now a fundraising consultant, I worked for about three decades for three different nonprofits. That’s long enough that it left an indelible imprint on me, and I still react like an organizational fundraiser when I hear stories on the news that directly or indirectly impact nonprofit organizations.
The truth is it’s impossible to keep up on everything that matters, or potentially could matter—and that’s not for a lack of opportunities. Like many of you, I read numerous e-newsletters every weekday morning, at least scanning the headlines to see if there is anything I need (or want) to know. I listen to news radio in my car and try to catch the TV news on a regular basis. I subscribe to a weekly news magazine, get news updates on my phone and regularly look at news sites online. All this in a desperate need to know what’s going on in the world.
Here’s what all these current events have triggered that I’ve been worrying about at night when I can’t sleep, or when I am stuck in the never-ending L.A. traffic:
1. How safe is our data? Yes, as a fundraiser, you probably have a person or a group of people responsible for that. But you are the “face” of the organization for many donors, and they trust you. So you have an obligation to know enough to feel confident you can answer in the affirmative if a donor asks if your organization safely maintains data.
A few months ago, my “go to” credit card was compromised and a new one was issued. I received the new “super” card with a chip (I admit it, readers from outside the U.S.—we’ve been a bit behind with our credit cards here. Chips are just recently showing up in our credit cards). Ten days ago, while I was in Indiana, my new card was having a fine time shopping in London; apparently my credit card is better traveled than I am. Fortunately, the credit card company caught it, the card was cancelled, I am not out any money and I have a brand new card. But, it makes me wonder—where did the breech of security occur? Could it have been when I made a donation online?
I can’t answer that, but if I were working as a fundraiser in a nonprofit right now, I would ask (not just once, but a few times a year) what security measures we have in place to protect data. And this goes beyond credit card data; when an entire donor file can be put on a $5 flash drive, knowing the precautions in place to prevent this and protect an extremely valuable asset of the organization deserves a fundraiser’s attention.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.