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Sharing my details with other charities

A few days ago I received an A4 package from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). It had a cute picture of a puppy on the front and the envelope proudly announced that it was a present ‘just in time for winter’. I do not support the IFAW, and regard them as a somewhat dubious organisation. My response was to cross out my address, label it as unsolicited mail and put it back in the postbox. What I do know, however, is where the IFAW got my details from, because of the way that my address was written incorrectly on the envelope. The errors were exactly those that I had made several attempts to correct when corresponding with a horse welfare charity from the West Country that I support.   

Now anyone who has ever sent a cheque to a charity knows that it will generate more unsolicited mail from other charities. Clearly charities know that if you support one good cause, you might be sympathetic to others. We also know that it sometimes works. What I am starting to ask myself is – is this right? Commercial organisations increasingly have a little box that you need to check or leave unchecked if you do/do not wish to receive carefully selected offers from other firms etc. Should charities consider doing the same? Are some charities guilty of lower standards than commercial organisations over this sharing of information? Something else that concerns me slightly is the fact that sharing my address might leave me open to fraud. I am increasingly cautious about who has my details, and I adopt a strict regime of shredding anything that might associate me, my address and any link to an organisation that could be used by fraudsters.  

I do not know the answers to my questions, but I do believe that they are valid. Do charities have to adhere to some code of practice in regard to sharing personal information from donors, or is it a free for all? I would be interested to know how individual charities regard this issue, or if they have given it any thought. 

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