THE International Fund for Animal Welfare has been fined £18,000 after “secretly wealth screening” donors and selling personal details in order to get extra cash.
The charity shared more than five million donor records with other animal rights organisations and brought in outside investigators to update its donor records.
IFAW fell foul of data protection laws and used donor’s old phone numbers to find the most recent ones. It also looked up email addresses and home postcodes to send out appeals.
It has also reportedly ranked its contributors by their wealth, lifestyle and personal connections.
Their purpose was to find out about the wealth of donors so they could bombard them with requests for more financial support.
The IFAW wasn’t the only charity slapped for breaching the data protection law. Eleven charities were fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office, totalling £138,000 in fines.
Out of all the charities involved, IFAW was fined the most.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “Millions of people will be upset to learn the way their personal information has been analysed and shared by charities they trusted with their details and their donations.
“We acknowledge the role charities play in the fabric of British society. But charities must follow the law.”
David Holdsworth, Chief Operating Officer at the Charity Commission, said: “The generous British public expect charities to safeguard their data and raise funds responsibly, and in return they donate in their millions.
“Sadly in these cases charities have not kept their side of the bargain.”
IFAW also has a previous track record of having an extremely low financial efficiency performance metric. On its charity ratings page it’s rated with only one star out of four, meaning that the charity is close to demonstrating gross inefficiency of services.