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UK charity sector facing twelve month deadline to master digital engagement

The charity needs to reframe the digital experience it offers supporters.

The introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation on 25 May 2018 is currently “a big cause for concern” among UK charities, according to a new white paper from digital consultancy ClearPeople.

While previously it was acceptable for charities to send email communications based on implied consent, i.e. including easy opt-out functionality, the new regulations detail that all data subjects for marketing must provide explicit consent to receive communications and that the sender must be able to prove that consent has been given.

Katya Linossi, founder and chief executive of Clearpeople, said: “This is being called a ‘double opt-in’ by many marketers as it involves the subject submitting their details online and then confirming who they say they are by approving an automatic email triggered at the time of the original submission. For charities, data is the lifeblood of their organisations. Their IT systems will consequently need to be able cope with these new data requirements, meaning expense and hassle for many.

GDPR isn’t all bad news, though. By marketing to people who have specifically opted-in to receive your communications, you’ll find that your engagement rates are much higher so you should see notable improvements in open and click-through rates. What’s more, the Direct Marketing Association has recently issued a statement that suggests many of the clauses of the new regulations may be softened, so that the explicit consent process may not be required at all. Watch this space!”

ClearPeople recently held a roundtable event with digital professionals from a variety of charities and non-for-profit organisations – including Alzheimer’s Society, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, British Red Cross and 38 Degrees – to discuss their own experiences. The findings from the roundtable have now been published in the white paper Digital Engagement in the Charity Sector, which is available to download for free.

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