Post-GDPR charity sector research

Summary of post-GDPR research in charity sector

In Harlequin Software’s survey* of charity professionals, the majority (71%) said they were prepared for when GDPR came into force on 25 May 2018. In comments describing the impact of GDPR on their charity, a third stated their data had reduced – with some reporting data at 10-11% of pre-GDPR levels. A quarter saw GDPR as a chance to review their processes and 20% indicated GPDR prompted a cleansing of data. 12% said GDPR had very little impact on their organisation so far.

When considering whether GDPR posed a threat or opportunity to charities/ fundraising, the response erred on the positive – with just over half believing it presents both. A further quarter are fully optimistic seeing GDPR as an opportunity; whereas only 12% see it singularly as a threat. Finally, 95% of respondents feel CRM / fundraising databases are very important/important in helping charities to adhere to GDPR.

Prepared for GDPR?

71% of respondents felt their charity was prepared for the day GDPR came into force on the 25 May 2018, 16% said they were not and 13% said they were not sure.

“We started a social media campaign in 2017 and our IT Manager led the way with training etc.”

“The team had done a lot of work in advance to secure the necessary permissions from our supporters.”

“Yes – as well as we could be – but some situations inevitably arose post May that we hadn’t fully anticipated.”

“Probably needed another 12 months! All our supporters had been written to – it’s not always easy to get a written reply.”

Impact of GDPR so far

When asked ‘What impact has GDPR had so far on your charity and the information you hold in your database?’, from the 75 free text comments:

• 32% stated a loss of data
• 25% referred to a re-consideration of processes
• 20% mentioned an opportunity to cleanse data
• 11% mentioned a time-burden
• 12% said GDPR has very little or no impact (at least to date)

“Definitely created extra work but ensures we are vigilant about maintaining accurate records.”

“It has proved to be a valuable exercise in data-cleansing and improving our data-keeping, but it has also been time-consuming.”

“Reduced mailing list to 10% of pre GDPR.”

“We wrote to all contacts saying they had to opt in. As a result our database of contacts has reduced from 11k to 800 opt-ins. Only 11% replied. Although we lost 89%, we spent less on our recent newsletter mail-out and received the same amount in donations as before. Therefore, what we thought was a negative situation, is now possibly positive as we are not wasting resources on dormant contacts.”

Opportunity or threat?

When asked ‘Do you feel GDPR presents an opportunity or threat to fundraising / charities?’ respondents answered as follows:

• Both 51%
• Opportunity 25%
• Threat 12%
• Not sure 9%
• Neither 3%

“Opportunity of more real conversation. Threat of less people to talk to.”

“It was a threat as we can lose contacts but it was an opportunity to reach out.”

“We have seen a significant impact to our supporting income due to changes but once we have gathered new / correct info this could be very positive.”

Importance of fundraising databases?

95% of respondents feel CRM / fundraising databases are very important (75%) or important (25%) in helping charities to adhere to GDPR.

“As long as data entry is correct, (our CRM) helps us to make sure we do what our supporters have asked us to do.”

“Every contact we know if / how / when they want to be contacted. This is our contact bible.”

“Where consent is concerned – (CRM is) extremely important!

*About our GDPR research

At the close of 2018 we surveyed the sector about charity readiness for GDPR, the impact so far and the ongoing role of CRM systems. We also asked what more CRM suppliers could do to help. 87 charity professionals participated anonymously at the following events:

• IoF North West Annual conference (Sept 2018).
• IoF East Anglia Regional Conference (Nov 2019).
• IoF South West Region Autumn Conference (Nov 2019).
• Harlequin CRM customer focus groups in north and south of England.

The data contained three quantitative questions and captured a range of qualitative feedback. There was also a question on the number of fundraisers (to indicate size).

• 62% of participating charities had 1-5 fundraisers.
• 29% of participating charities had 6-50 fundraisers.
• 9% of participating charities had over 50 fundraisers.
• The median size of team was 5 fundraisers

Read our 5 observations of GDPR in the charity sector here.


Louise Eagle

Posted on May 28, 2019 by Louise Eagle