GDPR – Evolution or Revolution?

GDPR – Evolution or Revolution?

Guest Bloggers | 8 September 2017

Leesa Harwood is Director of Community Lifesaving and Fundraising and will be chairing IoF’s Transforming you Supporter Journey Conference on Monday 11 September.

On 25 May 2017, with one year to go before GDPR comes into force, Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner said that it will be

“The biggest change to data protection law for a generation.”

Then, just three months later Steve Wood, Deputy Information Commissioner said,

“The new regime is an evolution in data protection, not a revolution”.

So, it’s not surprising that those of us trying to find one single version of the truth are struggling.  Which is it?  Evolution or revolution?  I suspect that the reality lies somewhere in between.  This is an evolutionary process, but with significant long-term impact that is not entirely obvious at this point in time.

But how does that help charities struggling to understand the implications for them and for their donors?  In all likelihood the final guidance on consent alone won’t be out until January 2018 at the earliest, we have no idea when guidance on legitimate interest might be published, leaving precious little time for charities to become compliant.

Research by nfpSynergy conducted in May this year found,

“The fact that the public want to see charities as morally superior to businesses makes them feel more strongly that charities must play by the same rules.  With this in mind they actually feel more annoyed when charities are perceived as breaking the rules than they do when businesses do it – as it undermines their beliefs about what charities should be.”

So, what are charities to do?  We’re running out of runway.  256 days, that’s 36 weeks or, 8 and a half months if that makes you feel better.

This is what we do?  We do what we always do when we’re faced with what seems like an insurmountable challenge, when our ethical and moral compass is tested, when we have to do so much more with so much less, when time is against us and expectations are high.

We stay true to our values and we rise to the challenge. Sir William Hillary, the founder of the RNLI said “With courage nothing is impossible”. This is as relevant now as it was in 1824.  And the truth is, when you drill down into the intent behind GDPR it is more aligned to the charity sector than you might think.  It’s about valuing people’s rights, respecting their wishes, listening to their views and earning their trust.



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