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Opting in: lemons to lemonade!

September 2015


Proposed new rules about data sharing are being viewed with alarm by UK charities.  The rules, needless to say, are a reaction to the supposed suicide-by-direct-mail of the deeply charitable Olive Cooke but … remember that wheeze about what to do when life throws lemons at you?  The answer is to make lemonade!

One thing I often run into with new employers/clients is an up-tightness about list sharing that breaks the number one rule of donor communications:  you aren’t your own audience.  Suspicion and negativity then leak into opt-out language. Furthermore, promising ‘never to share’ is I believe both lazy and costly. What happens when (not if) many of your donors stop giving?  What if many others never give more than a few pounds a year despite your expensive upgrade efforts?  Their names could still provide you with income AND you will be introducing them to charities with which they might decide they have a closer affinity, and to businesses worthy of their purchases.

The opt-in approach is an additional communication with your donor base and has the benefit of being a positive one.  Make the opt-in area easy to read big instead of in fine print (as a temporarily visually challenged person, I’m noticing these things!).  Add a link to a URL giving more details of why you are asking and exactly how the records will be used. Make sure you use a reliable list broker, that duplicate records are merged, and that the original dataset is never seen by or enters into the possession of the list renters. 

Suggested language (off the top of my head): Would you be willing to hear from carefully selected charity partners and other responsible organisations? By agreeing, you could discover new opportunities for giving and purchasing, but more important, it’s a way for you to help raise more funds for the programmes at [name of charity/NPO], which you so generously support. You can always let us know if you change your mind by contacting us at [email and phone number]. 

I agree __   Not at the moment, thanks __

Any questions or comments, get in touch!

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