You’ve heard me and several others talking about what’s happening on the UK fundraising/prospect research scene right now. Two charities have already been assessed hefty fines, and 11 other UK charities are currently under investigation for their fundraising activities including their prospect research/wealth screening activities.
It’s the wealth screenings that are the big deal part of it for us.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has not said that wealth screenings are illegal per se, but what they are saying now is that if a charity is going to do one, they have to get express permission from each and every person who is screened – in advance.
Imagine for a moment, my North American colleagues, if you were told you had to do that from now on.
Up until now, the law has been interpreted by most to mean that charities could simply tell donors they were using their data for fundraising purposes, but now those purposes must be broken down into their individual parts and explained in detail in order for permission to be apparent.
One of the things that has really impressed me over the past several months is the way the prospect research community in the UK has responded to this series of events. The conversations on listservs and social media, the efforts to research what’s happening and what it means, how people are sharing information in real time with peers, and the desire to understand what is expected and to comply – that’s all normal behavior for our community.
But the best part has been watching this group of Researchers in Fundraising stepping up publicly to debate, discuss, defend, and define the future of fundraising research. If research can’t be what it is now, these professionals are figuring out what it will be and taking a very public stage to talk about it. To lead the discussion.
For example, next Wednesday, from 6:00-9:00 in the evening, four prospect researchers (Laura, Helen, Nicola, and Andrew) and one awesome ally-fundraising-consultant (Adrian) will serve on a sold-out panel discussion alongside a representative of the ICO and the Head of Policy and Research from the Institute of Fundraising to discuss the future of prospect research in the UK.
Further, one of those panelists is Nicola Williams, Research Manager for Factary, a prospect research consulting company. Factary is one of only two companies offering wealth screenings in the UK, and Nicola was interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s nationally-aired program “You & Yours” to discuss the process. The interview aired this past Monday, and the podcast can be heard by clicking here. The interview starts at 34:46, but if you scroll down the main page and hit the blue square next to “Wealth Screening” it’ll take you right to the start of the segment.
These folks are setting the standard for picking up the thrown-down gauntlet with style. I applaud their bravery and leadership.
They should be well chuffed. I certainly am for them.