Dutch third sector organisations have raised major concerns over proposed legislation that would require charities to make public the details of large donations and their donors.
The draft legislative proposal ‘Transparency for civil society organisations’ went into consultation just before Christmas 2018 and would require civil society organisations in the Netherlands to report on their websites the amount of donations received worth €15,000 or above, as well as the name and residence of the donors.
Goede Doelen Nederland and charities association SBF labelled the proposal as ‘unacceptable’, calling for it to be rejected as soon as possible. Jan van Berkel, chair of Goede Doelen Nederland and board member of the SBF said:
“This draft legislative proposal is unacceptable and must be thrown out. If it becomes law, we fear it will deter donors from giving higher amounts as it is damaging for their privacy, their safety and the Dutch willingness to donate. For example, someone with HIV who donates twice a year to an AIDS charity may not want their neighbours to know this. Or an elderly person living alone may not want others to know that he or she donates high amounts to different charities each month? People should be able to donate in privacy.”
EFC and DAFNE have also filed their concerns as a joint contribution to the consultation, stating that the draft law is potentially in conflict with human rights and EU law, that it is not in line with the overall environment for philanthropy in Europe, and puts the status of the Netherlands as a philanthropy-friendly country at risk. The bodies warns that it could have a significant ‘chilling effect’ on donors and philanthropy in Europe.
The response has been contributed in consultation with other legal experts, including ECNL (The European Center for Not-for-Profit Law), analysing the draft law from a human rights and EU law perspective. Their contribution emphasises that the law would affect the work of funders and donors both in and outside the Netherlands and would also have a wider impact on European philanthropy and civil society by potentially setting a precedent that other member countries might follow.
Their key objections include the negative impact they believe it will have on donor privacy and safety, and therefore the willingness to give, which would affect donation levels. They also state that it does not take into account other laws and regulations that already address the transparency issue, and will involve additional and unacceptable workload for charities. Legally, they say it is in breach with the spirit and intentions of the GDPR, and does not meet international and EU human rights conventions or EU legislation on data protection.
The consultation concluded at the end of February. It received 187 responses from across all areas of civil society including churches, funds, museums, performing arts, and other charities, as well as from outside of the sector, including from business association VNO/NCW, the Council of Annual Reporting, Network of Notaries, PWC and the Committee of Corporate Law.
A response from Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker (Ministry of Justice and Security) on the results of the internet consultation is expected imminently, following the Dutch Provincial Council elections.