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Data protection – Manchester conference

Data protection – Manchester conference

There was a conference in Manchester yesterday. I heard some of the contributions. It is a shame that the live video froze during each presentation, so I don’t know the significance of what I missed. The main thing I got was that the regulators want to help charities to get it right. We need to be clear about what we can do and how we can do it.

It was great to be able to see and hear the first few speakers at the conference. Martyn Lewis provided the welcome and introductions. He was followed by Elizabeth Denham, (Information Commissioner), Paula Sussex, (Charity Commission) and Gerald Oppenheim (Fundraising Regulator). Speakers from The Children’s Society and Rethink provided details of case studies.

I noted a few points they made, and things started to liven up a little during the questions to the panel. At the same time it was frustrating that there was not nearly enough time to thrash things out.

The text of Elizabeth Denham’s speech and the delegates’ paper are available on the ICO website. A video, and other resources will be available shortly. I think that it was during the Q&As that Elizabeth Denham said that she had never heard of wealth screening. However, as I recall, the Researchers in Fundraising (RiF) working group on Data Protection guidelines (published in November 2004) asked to discuss the proposed RiF guidelines with the IOC, to find out if they were on the right track. The RiF guidelines referred to screening as data mining. Oh how different things might have been.

The seminars after lunch looked interesting, but they were not made available via the website. Trustee Responsibility (Charity Commission), New guidance on consent from the Fundraising Regulator and Fundraising and Regulatory Compliance (ICO) looked like being the most useful parts of the day. The seminars were repeated after the afternoon break. When do we get to hear about them?

I tuned in again for the closing session and next steps…  let’s end the day reflecting on turning a page … does this feel right? If it does, maybe the ICO will say it is. Well, that requires some qualification.

So we are turning a page, but much needs to be clarified.

Finbar Cullen, ResearchPlus



Finbar Cullen established ResearchPlus in 2005 to provide fundraising research services for the not-for-profit sector. He researches people, companies and grant-making trusts and foundations, mostly in the UK, but also other parts of the world. Finbar has published directories of “unpublished” grant-making trusts (registered with the Charity Commission and with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), and each month he contributes to The Trust List, highlighting newly registered grant-making trusts worthy of particularly close attention.

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