Several BWF clients have asked our thoughts on the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data controversy and what advice we have at this time. At this point in our current media cycle, it is likely you have heard about the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook controversy, but just in case; Facebook recently suspended a data analytics company called Cambridge Analytica from their platform after Cambridge Analytica misused ill-gotten Facebook data to construct targeted campaigns to help Donald Trump win the presidential election.
The blowback from this scandal has been many fold and will likely continue to develop in the coming months and years. Our digital team could talk for hours about the nuances of the situation but for now, we have four observations and five recommendations.
- The way most nonprofits fundraise on social media, conduct giving days, and place ads on Facebook or other digital platforms is not like the practices described in the highly contentious political sector.
- From our observation, nonprofits are not click-baiting, illegally utilizing personal data, or running audience suppression campaigns. We have not yet seen an example of this kind of ill-conceived behavior among our clients. On the contrary, we have only seen relevant, positive, and engaging digital campaigns with ads that are relevant to the constituents of our clients.
- The recent self-imposed changes in the Facebook App API (mobile apps that can harvest Facebook data) and restrictions on partner data (other data providers like Acxiom & Experian with data in Facebook) have very minimal impact on digital fundraising.
- During this controversy media outlets and politicians have increasingly been referencing the GDPR regulations in Europe and suggesting similar legislation in the United States. While an exact replica of GDPR is not likely in the United States, we can almost certainly expect some kind of legislation focused on data privacy. BWF’s team will continue to monitor these developments and alert you to important changes that might impact fundraising practice.
- Digital fundraising, giving days, and other P2P fundraising methods are showing strong channel growth, while phone and direct mail are predominantly declining. Digital adoption, growth, and usage are at all-time highs. Recent events only highlight the need to ensure that you have a robust, informed, and ethical digital strategy.
- Now is the time to look at and focus on relevant content and not to trick people into clicking (hardly needs to be stated). Engaging constituents at the nexus of your funding priorities and their philanthropic passions is the true art of digital fundraising. Inspiring content delivered to the right segments will continue to be central to that effort.
- If you are using partner data in your digital campaigns, it will simply not be available moving forward. If you aren’t sure you are using this data, call us and we can help you determine if you are.
- If you have a mobile app that is integrated into the Facebook API, some of the app’s functionally will change. Reach out to your app developers to understand how this will impact your app.
- If you are concerned about any of your current strategies, BWF can perform a digital review to see if anything you may be doing might cause concern to the public or potential future regulations. Just give us a call.
In conclusion, we want to affirm that BWF is monitoring network policies, legislation, best practices and communication technology trends. We will continue to alert you to developments and stand ready to assist as you develop best in class digital engagement strategies.