While I’m sitting here on a Wednesday evening looking at my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, I’m wondering how much information really is necessary for everyone to know about me from a public perspective. I truly have not hidden that much about myself both professionally and personally. I’m an open book and have many interests, hobbies, and people in my life, so I’m not surprised by all the data I’m making available for anyone and everyone when they simply “Google” my name. I’m finding that many of our prospects and donors have done the same thing with their various social media profiles. So in talking with a friend and colleague of mine who is a major donor to several organizations, I found out she is a lot like me.
I then searched her name via Google, even though she is a friend and colleague of mine in Facebook and LinkedIn, and I could see that she puts out quite a bit of information on herself as I do. I asked her how she feels about the information on Facebook and LinkedIn that she leaves available for the public being utilized for a donor or prospect profile by fundraising offices with the various non-profits she supports, and if she is okay with it or against it. She said that she feels they would not be doing their “due-diligence” if they didn’t include it. She made my laugh when she put the analogy together that if a criminal or old forgotten boyfriend can access the pieces of her life she puts out to the public domain, she is more than happy for a charity to utilize this data when trying to raise money for their organizations. Now if someone who works at the non-profit is connected to her in Facebook or LinkedIn, then she thinks it is a violation of the relationship she has with that development professional. Although she has not checked it out herself, she believes that the non-profit organizations she supports engage in professional handling of her data. I told her that I concur that this is the case, as I have observed nothing but ethical practices with the thousands of non-profits I have been involved with over my 16 years. She feels that it is critical for charities to have the ability to make informed decisions on what to ask for and what not to ask for when it comes to her level of involvement with the organizations she supports, be it financial or time commitment. These are all assumptions that I was working under, and I have read many on-line articles and on-line posts about this issue, but I wanted to get one philanthropist’s opinion on the matter.
I am curious if others out there have opinions or other experiences in talking with their donors and prospects regarding this subject? Please feel free to reply to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.