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Data Monetisation - How Can Charities Benefit?

on Monday, 30 May 2022.

While some charities are understandably cautious about data monetisation, with the right systems and capabilities in place, it can be a useful tool for charities to grow and meet their unique challenges.

However, it is essential, when using personal data of members and supporters for commercial purposes, to ensure that such use is lawful.

Data is a precious asset for organisations and can be monetised to create new revenue streams to support an organisation’s continued growth. The most typical types of data that are open to monetisation are an individual’s social media posts, location data and search engine enquiries.

What Is the Benefit to Charities?

For charities, data monetisation can be particularly useful when it comes to fundraising. By collecting data from various sources, a charity can understand and learn about particular donors, such as their occupation, household income and internet usage to better target their communications to donors in an effort to build relationships and increase donations.

A charity can sell its database to other partners in the charity sector or field that it works in using an algorithm to understand supporting databases. While that may feel 'alien' to some charities, it can help beneficiaries as well as charitable causes. Once the data is collected and collated against conventional databases the value of the data increases, giving it the potential to be used for research and discovery, targeted marketing, societal purposes and improvements, and achieving commercial and business objectives.

What Data Protection Considerations Must a Charity Have in Mind?

Just because you have access to certain data, that does not mean that you own the data or can use it in particular ways. When buying or selling personal data from another organisation, you must ensure to meet your obligations under the UK GDPR. Before embarking on a new project involving monetisation of personal data we recommend that you consider the following:

  • Privacy notice - if you are using personal data for commercial purposes, including sharing personal data with another organisation, you must inform individuals via your privacy notice and give them the opportunity to object.
  • Lawful basis - you should be careful and confident that you have a legitimate and lawful basis to use the personal data in this way, and that this is clearly stated in your privacy notice.
  • Data Protection Impact Assessment - if the proposed data monetisation project uses new technologies, and is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of the individuals you are targeting, you must carry out a data protection impact assessment.
  • Audit - consider carrying out a mini audit at the outset to understand and ensure good data protection practice. This will allow you to conduct a careful review of existing contracts to determine the limits of any restrictions that are in place and how they may affect your intended use of the personal data.
  • Fines - misuse of personal data or failure to provide an appropriate privacy notice will likely result in a fine from the ICO.
  • Wider Issues - Charities should also consider the reputational issues arising from the monetisation of data. Members, funders and other stakeholders often have high expectations of charities and the monetisation of data is an area on which some people hold strong views..

For further advice or assistance with data monetisation, please contact Penny Bygrave in the Data Protection team on 07909 681 572 or complete the form below.

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