Giver Privacy

While giver information is treated with the utmost confidentiality by ministries, there is no Federal law that mandates giver privacy. 

Is it acceptable for a ministry chief executive officer or fundraising consultant to be given a list of givers, identified either within dollar ranges or with actual contribution amounts? This practice is not prohibited or considered unethical if this information is used within a limited context on a “need-to-know” basis. However, circulating this information outside the ministry would be considered unethical.

It is wise and prudent for a ministry to maintain a giver privacy policy to help assure its givers of their privacy in contributing to the ministry. Ministries should consider including several components in developing giver privacy policies:

  • How the giver information is used – The giver privacy policy should explain how giver information will be used. Common uses are to process contributions, communicate with donors, and update them about ministry events or programs. 

  • Who the giver information is shared with – The privacy policy should specify whether the ministry will share giver information with other ministries. Most ministries have a policy not to share any form of giver information. If, however, a ministry does share giver information with other ministries, it is important that they disclose that fact in the giver privacy policy. Doing so allows givers to be aware that any personal information given may be passed on to another ministry.

  • Removal from mailing list – A good giver privacy policy will also include instructions that an individual may follow to remove their name from the mailing list. 

Ministries may communicate their policy on giver privacy in several different ways. The policy may be included in fundraising appeals, response vehicles, contribution receipts, annual reports, and on the ministry’s website. Ministries can publish their entire giver privacy policy or create a simplified giver privacy statement to be used on documents and websites.

Click here for the Giver Privacy Sample Policy.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.