Protecting Your Cause: Data Privacy for Nonprofits


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Nonprofit organizations serve communities by providing healthcare, education, housing, and so much more. Data collection and management is a major component of running a nonprofit, whether collecting donations or registering volunteers. However, failing to meet certain data privacy standards can put your organization at risk of data breaches and compliance violations. These incidents can cost as much as four percent of a nonprofit’s yearly revenue.

In this blog, you’ll learn about some of the most significant data privacy regulations that apply to the nonprofit industry, why they’re crucial, and steps your organization can take to safeguard its data.

Legislation that impacts data privacy for nonprofits

It’s important to be aware of the laws that affect your organization specifically and to clarify what qualifies as personally identifiable information (PII). Many states in the U.S. require nonprofits to notify people if PII is exposed in the event of a breach. Depending on the type of data your nonprofit collects, you may be required to comply with other regulations, such as HIPAA for protected health information (PHI).

Even if your data doesn’t qualify as PII or PHI, any data breach can be harmful to the reputation of your nonprofit. Regardless of which laws apply to your organization directly, it’s always a good idea to keep data safe to maintain trust with donors, employees, volunteers, and anyone else who is involved with your organization.

As data breaches have become more common, European lawmakers have enacted the GDPR, and individual state governments in the U.S. have also enacted data privacy regulations of their own. For more information on current and upcoming regulations that may affect your nonprofit, check out FormAssembly’s State of Data Privacy in 2019 whitepaper.

The significance of data privacy for nonprofits

Many nonprofit organizations manage confidential or sensitive data, making them a target for hackers and criminals. If you haven’t developed security procedures and training, your entire organization could be at risk. Failure to protect data at your nonprofit organization can cause:

  • Significant loss of time, money, and resources
  • Damage to your organization’s reputation in the community
  • Loss of trust and potential loss of relationships with donors, volunteers, employees, and more

Recent surveys show that 70 percent of nonprofits don’t have proper data security policies and procedures in place, indicating that there is a lot of progress to be made in the nonprofit data privacy world. In the meantime, there are plenty of steps your organization can take toward securing sensitive data.

Best practices for nonprofit data privacy

Regulations and data privacy risks may seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of tips and tools that can help. Make sure your organization follows these steps to stay compliant, safe, and protected:

  • Use administrative controls to ensure that data stays in the right hands
  • Develop a response plan to use in the event of a breach
  • Choose safe, compliant vendors and data management tools
  • Encrypt data for additional layers of security
  • Get to know the GDPR and other relevant regulations
  • Develop data security training policies for any employee who manages data

How FormAssembly can help

FormAssembly has helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations securely and effectively process data. We also offer a generous nonprofit discount, providing greater access to our secure data collection platform. Are you ready to simplify data collection and ramp up data privacy within your nonprofit organization?

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