The RSPCA is facing a fine of £25,000 for a practice called ‘wealth-screening’ and for incorrectly disclosing donor information to create a pool of donor data. The Charity Commission shared their findings earlier in the month following an 18-month investigation. The British Heart Foundation were also fined £18,000 for the same reason.
The two charities are accused of tracing new and lapsed donors by sharing information and piecing together information from other sources and then trading this information to create a pool of personal details to share with other charities. The concern is that these donors were never given the opportunity to consent to the practice because they weren’t aware it was happening.
While the investigation was ongoing, the RSPCA told the Information Commissioner’s Office that they had been engaging in a practice called “wealth-screening” since 2010 and had no plans to stop, but they have since confirmed they no longer carry out this practice.
This leaves supporters in a difficult position, as not only has their information been traded without their consent, but they have also given money to a charity that will now have to be used to pay the fine. The RSPCA has voiced their concern at the ruling and also said they disagree with their ICO’s conclusions.
Jeremy Cooper, chief executive of the RSPCA has said: “We are listening to the public and are changing the way we ask people to support our vital work which meets their needs and expectations, whilst safeguarding potentially vulnerable people.
“Our supporters and members are the heart of the society. It is only thanks to them that we can do the work we do rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming thousands of animals each year.”
The ICO currently has inquiries open into the PDSA, Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation and the Cancer Recovery Foundation, while the findings from investigations into Oxfam, the NSPCC and Macmillan Cancer Support are also outstanding.