UK Charities Fined for Violating Donor Privacy

Raising money for charitable causes can be difficult, and so charities rely on a number of techniques to do so. But there are ethical and unethical methods. Eleven British charities found out recently that the unethical methods they were using would end up costing them. To the tune of £219,000.

The groups in question, which include the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Cancer Research UK, and Oxfam were targeting wealthier donors for more money. While appealing to wealth patrons in and of itself isn’t unethical, they were doing so by violating privacy agreements in order to find out how much donors were worth. They subsequently targeted those donors with additional phone calls, mailings, and other communications.

On top of all of this, organizations were also sharing this private information amongst themselves. What’s worse is that there is evidence to suggest that some of that information was even being sold.

Cooperation between charities is great, but this is taking things too far. These activities not only violated the privacy and trust of the donors so targeted, but the trust of other donors as well. If donors cannot expect a reasonable amount of privacy from organizations to which they donate, why should they trust them with their money in the first place?

There are laws to protect people’s privacy on both sides of the pond, and those laws need to be upheld. If the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States feel that donors should be entitled to their privacy, what right do charitable organizations have to violate that privacy?

The answer is none, of course. Missions are important for charities, and these organizations are working towards making the world a better place. But we can’t allow our missions to interfere with our morals. The ends, in this case, do not justify the means.