This recent Ipsos survey regarding personal information collected as folks use the internet suggests that care be taken as nonprofits try to know more and more about their constituents.

In this survey, 45% of US adults feel they have little (33%) or no (12%) control over the personal information companies gather while they are browsing the web or using online services. And 24% believe that they have little to no control over information that they intentionally share online through activities like online retail transactions, email, or social media. 85% have taken steps to protect their online privacy.

When asked under what circumstances companies should be able to track individuals browsing the web or using online services, 60% say this should be allowed only after an individual specifically gives the company permission to do so, and 28% say companies should never be allowed to do such tracking.

And what about using the data?

Just 20% of adults say that they want to receive personalized advertising based on their web browsing or online service use, while 80% report that they did not wish to receive such ads.

It’s proven over and over that data-driven individualized direct fundraising will outperform blanket approaches. But where do you draw the line?

Yes, your established donors want a sense that you know and recognize who they are and what their relevant giving history, interests and contact preferences might be. But you also need to be mindful of making them nervous about what you might know.

Now, my gut tells me that most nonprofits are still miles and miles away from collecting, appending, and using the sort and extent of data that might actually offend or frighten a donor.

But is that true?

So, Roger and I jumped on a request by Angie Moore at Navigating Off the Napkin. She is taking a brief survey on nonprofits’ use of databases — what sorts of donor info do you collect, what’s it used for, etc. Will only take you a few minutes to complete, and you can help paint a useful picture of our sector’s state of play.

Roger and I — dataheads that we are — are looking forward to her results and report.

Meantime, anyone have a ‘scary use of data’ story from the nonprofit sector? Are we there yet?!

Tom

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