Where Data Collection and Charitable Giving Intersect

Up until recently, you probably noticed a lot of headlines about strides to protect consumers’ data. That’s all taking place on the state level; federally, no such laws exist yet. In the meantime, many organizations may be collecting your personal information, including nonprofits, since individual donations account for the majority of charitable giving in the United States. What does that mean, exactly? Read on.

Shaping your online persona

Almost every time you click onto a website you’ve never visited before, you’ll encounter a pop-up notification that basically asks for you to grant the host permission to use cookies while you move through the site. If you click agree without giving it much thought, you’re not alone. These notifications are everywhere, so they tend to become white noise. But what are we agreeing to?

These cookies are small bits of data from a specific website that are stored within your browser while you wander the internet. They function on many different levels, tracking not just your online browsing but also what you seem the most interested in (via online shopping, charitable donations, restaurant reservations). They also collect data on who you are (name and email address) and who you’ve been talking to on social media.

Pieced together, cookies create a pretty detailed description of your consumer persona. Some would argue too detailed. Hence, the recent interest by legislators. But cookies are also constantly improving your online experience, from the little things, like remembering your login details, to aligning you with the things you seem to care about. 

The data that’s being collected is also helping nonprofits ensure that their programs and services are aligning with their constituents’ needs. That said, we could all stand to be a little more aware of the types of information we’re sharing about ourselves.

Minimizing your footprint

There are a couple simple things you can do to minimize your online footprint. First, get into the habit of deleting your cookies every so often. Keep in mind that cookies are the reason your login information automatically fills in. So, by deleting them from your browser, you’ll need to manually sign yourself into your various accounts.

Where your charitable giving, specifically, is concerned, check the nonprofit’s site before making a donation to see if it has a donor privacy policy in addition to its standard terms of use and privacy policy. A donor privacy policy explicitly states how or when the charity will use your data. 

If the nonprofit doesn’t have a donor privacy policy, and you’d prefer that it not use your data in any way, call the nonprofit and ask that your data be deleted or removed from its shared and sold data lists.