By Lisa McDermott
On a dreary January afternoon, I was sat in a room. Well a hall technically. In Shoreditch. With a ‘gathering’ – is that the right word? – of volunteer managers and leaders of volunteers.
Over the next few hours we experienced a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from being gobsmacked, determined, panicked and relieved. Who knew that an AVM event about the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] could generate such a response. Not me…
First up to the podium was the RNLI. They started their GDPR journey in 2016 so compared to a lot of other people in the room they are well ahead of the curve. The pioneers, if you will, in the GDPR wilderness.
A clever campaign – Communication Saves Lives – has seen nearly 500,000 supporters opt in by the end of 2017 to continue receiving fundraising communications, and as a result the response rate to a Summer appeal increase from 10.4% to 32.8%. Impressive I nod sagely….
Their multifaceted, one-size doesn’t fit all, engagement which included staff ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions and tailored volunteer messaging was also a bit special. I too find food is a great persuader….
There was an audible gasp, however, when we learnt that the RNLI had only applied GDPR to their direct marketing. What?? After all that you’ve still got shed loads to do? At this point I think some panic started to set in.
Next up was the Alzheimer’s Society who gave an honest and frank account of living under an E10 enforcement notice after being sanctioned by the Information Commissioner. This forced them to have a long hard look at how the organisation, their staff and volunteers process data but in doing so they are now in a happy place and feeling prepared for GDPR. I’m not sure when I am next going to have a discussion about hamster bedding and composting in the same breath as why GDPR is important.
Our last presenter for the day was Paul Jennings from Bates, Wells and Braithwaite who took us through some of the ‘legalese’ and dealt with some insightful and challenging questions from the crowd on topics like retention policies, roles and responsibilities and privacy notices.
There was also an interesting discussion on whether asking volunteers for consent is the right thing to do and whether gathering data under the legitimate interest banner would be more appropriate. Organisations need to decide for themselves what works best for them. Food – and a biccy – for thought…
So, by the end of the day our heads were spinning with advice, guidance, predictions and questions about what GDPR means for us and our organisations. Will it be “an evolution or a revolution?” For us probably the former as we already have a lot of data safeguards in place due to the nature of our work but for others it might mean coming out on the streets, waving the GDPR flag and shouting ‘viva la revolucion!”
Lisa McDermott is an AVM member, and Volunteering Management and Training Officer (UK) at the Stroke Association.