Mette Holm, President of EFA, laments the lack of clarity in
EU data protection proposals.





When the EU published its revised proposals for data protection legislation across member states, at first the fundraising sector breathed a sigh of relief. A leaked proposal released last year had included the recommendation of an opt-in system for the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes.

This would have meant that donors would need to indicate that they were happy for nonprofits to contact them. In short, the onus lay with donors to make that choice. With the ball in the donor’s court, nonprofits would have been severely restricted in terms of reaching out to potential supporters.

After several voluntary sector groups and European Commission departments voiced their objections to this part of the proposal, it was removed. But, it doesn’t all end there.

As it stands, the EU proposal introduces the ‘right to be forgotten’. This means individuals can ask to have all personal data removed by an organisation. In its current wording, the article might also apply to information on suppression lists, rendering these ineffective. In short, every charity’s potential market for direct mail, email and telephone fundraising could be greatly minimised, while the administrative burden for managing data would be far greater.

The current proposal also lacks clarity. As EU regulation, it would supercede national laws and therefore it requires clarity in order for everyone to know how this will work in practice.  The exact implication of some provisions across EU member states is not yet clear even to data protection policy experts. Our job is to determine the intention and practical implications of those gray areas.

With the EU presidency hosted in Denmark until June this year, The Danish Fundraising Association ISOBRO met with the Ministry of Justice to discuss these proposals and plans to submit a formal response in the coming weeks, before the deadline of 1st July.


Our understanding is that the final regulations will reflect our concerns and be very different to current proposals. German politician and MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht has been appointed as the Rapporteur responsible for developing these proposals.

But that does not mean that EFA should sit by and idly wait. We must be vigilant and prepare to fight for the best terms for the fundraising organisations that we represent.  And that is why we are now forming a task group that will work both at EU level, lobbying Mr Albrecht to ensure that the fundraising industry is clearly represented, whilst also providing recommendations for members at a national level.