If your organisation is struggling with effective management of data query issues, read on for Glenn Harrison’s helpful tips – because it matters.

ConexumEffective data compliance and donor support services free up charities to do what they do best – help their beneficiaries. Failure in their donor support service, on the other hand, can hinder a charity’s fundraising efforts and tie up staff.

The best approach comprises an effective strategy that takes into account any concerns around personal data. A charity might have excellent donor support services in all other aspects of its work, however failure to properly manage personal data enquiries can undo all of that.

Many charities invest significant resources in the documented privacy compliance practices that apply to their organisations. However, these practices are meaningless if they fail at the first point of contact between staff and a consumer.

Charities should aim to empower staff, even those who might receive queries about data, with a basic understanding of best practice. Employees who are aware of policy, along with the general provenance of the personal data held by their organisation, including how it is collected and consumer rights, already have a head start. They are much more likely to provide quality donor support service and mitigate complaints.

Forward-facing staff should anticipate these commonly asked queries:

Where did you get my personal details?

If access to this information is readily available, this query can be answered fully and quickly. If time is required to establish third-party sourced consumer data, best practice is to provide a view on how long it will take. Under industry guidelines, consumer queries should be answered within a reasonable timeframe.

Can you remove my details from your database immediately?

This is a straightforward request: confirmation that a consumer’s record has been suppressed is all that’s required. It may, however, be necessary to clarify the difference between suppressing and deleting, explaining that if a record is deleted no record of the complaint will be held.

My mother has died so why is she still receiving marketing literature?

Many people simply throw unwanted marketing literature, whoever it is addressed to, in the bin. For others it is upsetting to receive letters addressed to a loved one who has died. As well as confirming suppression, it is worthwhile to inform people that they can register their relative’s death with The Australian Bereavement Register.

Have you illegally obtained medical details from my doctor/hospital?

Targeted marketing can give rise to instances of consumers becoming distressed because they suspect there is more to the marketing piece than simple coincidence. As an example, a consumer may have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and then receive a mailing from a cancer research charity. It’s not uncommon in these cases for people to allege that a charity has acquired illegal access to medical records. Sensitive handling of these cases is paramount.

Transparency is essential

Whatever the question, the key for anyone responsible for handling consumer data queries is to embed quality donor support service into their team – whatever the demands. Do so and you will be rewarded.

A full version of this article will be published in the June/July issue of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine, which is out on 2 June.

Glenn Harrison has been at the forefront of data marketing for over 20 years. He is one of the early pioneers in Australia in the cooperative transactional data marketing concept, and is responsible for creating a number of the industry data cleansing and suppression file products.

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