Charities warned on keeping donors’ details
Data Protection Commissioner tells organisations he will prosecute if information obtained via text message campaigns is used for other purposes
The charities , as well as the service provider used to create the promotional database using the SMS service, could face separate prosecution for the same offences.
The spokeswoman said donors should be able to make donations “privately and anonymously if they wished without having to worry about what might happen to their personal details when they press the ‘send’ button to transmit their donation”.
“We can assure the public that this office is closely monitoring developments on this front and we will not hesitate to take appropriate action against any charity or service provider that contravenes the law.”
World Vision Ireland said it “would be in regular contact with the Data Protection office when undertaking new campaigns”.
“Depending on their advice we act accordingly.”
Barretstown said it had engaged consultants to “help us gain clarity around this activity in the interests of the sector as a whole given the importance of this fundraising channel”.
“As of yet we have not managed to make much progress, however.”
Asked about its sources of revenue, John Kyne of Like Charity said the company’s model was to assist the charities with “marketing” activities. Asked whether the phone numbers of donors were passed back to the charities concerned, Mr Kyne said this was done “if they ask for them”.
Initially, the company had planned to charge a commission, but this would have triggered an “onerous regulatory levy” on donations of about 1.8 per cent.
The communications regulator Comreg was currently consulting on the levy and he hoped in future such levies would not apply to charity donations.
“Likecharity has not charged any commissions to date and we have committed not to charge any until at least 2015. After 2015 we will generate an income by being competitive compared to other payment methods such as debit/credit card.”
Anne Hannify, chief executive of Fundraising Ireland, an association representing professional fundraisers, said her organisation would meet the Data Protection Commissioner’s office in the coming weeks to discuss the issues involved.
Ms Hannify said that, at present, charities would only add someone’s details to their marketing database if they informed them in their advertising campaign that this would be done.
“Everybody wants to see a solution that’s fair to the donor but that also works for the charities as well,” she added.