Risks With Online Fundraising
Fundraising online makes it much easier for schools and groups can reach their fundraising goals. However, safety concerns from families and donors can hinder your success. Discover four risks associated with online fundraising in Australia, and how you can check if your online fundraising platform is cyber safe.
Identifying the risks of online fundraising
With lots of fundraising providers now offering online fundraising in Australia, you may not know whether to believe their claims of cyber safety. Here are four things you can look for when deciding if a fundraising platform is safe for students and families.
1. Data sale, invasion or theft
One of the most common downfalls of online security is overseas servers. This means that your data is not kept on Australian servers and is, therefore, not held to Australian standards of privacy and security. Other countries have varied (and often much more relaxed) privacy and security laws.
If your online fundraising platform is using an offshore server to hold your information, you may be at risk of data sale or invasion.
Your information may be sold to advertising companies (like telemarketers!). Even worse, different privacy and security requirements may make your information vulnerable to hacking, fraud or theft.
If you see any of the following in your fundraising provider, it may not be cyber safe:
- Overseas servers or fragmented servers,
- Non-Australian ownership of the company or fundraising partner.
2. Data retention
Similar to overseas servers, they are different laws about who can access your data and for how long. The longer a company retains (or keeps) your data, the longer it can be misused or stolen.
When looking for red flags regarding data retention, keep an eye out for:
- Who stores your data (ie. Which company manages your online fundraising data),
- How long your data is kept in the system – ideally, data is kept for one year or less,
- If and how your data is deleted from the server,
- Where and how data is stored.
3. Non-compliant with government standards
Don’t expose your school to risk or harm. The Chief Information Officers from all Australian State and Territory Departments of Education and representatives from the Catholic and Independent Sectors recognise the importance of privacy and security and have helped establish the Safer Technologies for Schools initiative (ST4S).
ST4S is a nationally consistent risk assessment approach, which assesses services used by schools against benchmarked criteria for information security, privacy, online safety, and interoperability requirements. Australian Fundraising was evaluated against the ST4S framework and has successfully achieved a compliant result.
4. School and student vulnerability
First and foremost, you want to make sure your students are safe and protected. This means that they cannot be easily found online and their profiles contain very little personally identifiable information. To make sure your school and students are safe, look for:
- The collection of sensitive, personally identifiable information (like a driver’s license or birth certificate). This is a big no, especially if the server is held overseas,
- What information is uploaded and displayed to the public – such as student photos, full names, school or class group,
- Search features for school or student names – student profiles should only be found via direct link.
The eSmart Digital License!
Educate your school community on navigating the online world safely. Encourage your school to invest in the eSmart Digital License, through the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation.
The eSmart Digital License is designed for children aged 4 to 14 years. Make sure your kids are smart, safe and responsible online with the eSmart Digital License.
Frequently Asked Questions
Online fundraising in Australia can raise a lot of questions, especially now that you know the risks. Below are some frequently asked questions, but if you have more, make sure you contact the team of School and Club Fundraising Specialists at Australian Fundraising. The friendly team will be able to answer all of your questions about fundraising online!
Parents are cautious about online fundraising. What can I do?
It is understandable that parents – or your school itself – are cautious about online fundraising. But reassuring them that your online fundraising provider is cyber-safe can go a long way in helping them feel at ease.
If you choose to fundraise online with Australian Fundraising, you could reassure parents with this online fact sheet. Alternatively, you can support ways to fundraise with cash using the sponsorship booklet provided to every student.
Why should students fundraise online?
Did you know? Students who fundraise online raise 3x more funds than those who do not. That’s a big jump in fundraising profit when you choose to fundraise online! Other reasons to fundraise online include the greater reach of sponsors (including overseas donors!), and easier logistics for volunteers and coordinators.
What are the risks of choosing an unsafe online fundraising provider?
Some people may consider cyber safety a low priority – until something goes wrong! Some risks include:
- The sale or ‘leaking’ of personal information with overseas companies – like telemarketers!
- Employment of children’s data and profiles for sinister use.
- Risk of hacking or exposure of your information, leading to fraud or theft.
The risks can have very serious consequences. Hence, you need to complete your due diligence in ensuring your fundraising program is cyber-safe for schools and families.
It’s important that parents and students are taught to identify risks online, especially when it relates to money.
I chose a fundraiser provider that isn’t cyber-safe. What do I do?
Unfortunately, many fundraising providers may not have undertaken the proper diligence to protect students and their families.
If you think you may have chosen an unsafe fundraising provider, revisit the terms and conditions of your arrangement. You may be able to cancel your account and cease online fundraising. Although this may not reverse your risk, it will communicate that their negligence isn’t acceptable.
Next time you fundraise, choose a program that meets the four Cyber Safe Fundraising Checks! One program you may like to choose is Australian Fundraising – we have gone through rigorous cyber safety verification with ST4S Safer Technologies for Schools to ensure we meet all the checks and balances!
Not sure if your online fundraising in Australia provider is cyber safe? Talk to our team of School and Club Fundraising Specialists! They can answer any questions you have about online fundraising in Australia. Get started today!