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Collecting Consents and Developing Email Lists on DARS

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Preface

This article will be updated on a regular basis. Updates may be required in response to updates to DARS or changes to business processes or errors. .

Refer to DARSWiki Conventions for information on icons and other conventions that may apply to this User Guide.

Ensure you are familiar with the Data Protection laws before adding data to records in DARS. Refer to DARSWiki FurtherHelp for further information and relevant links. Please think twice before printing this article. If a printed copy is necessary, ensure it is printed double-sided and always recycle old versions.

Author(s): Alison Edwards (UO Alumni Office) and Dan Keyworth (UODO)


Introduction

This document sets out the processes to be adopted by DARS Participants in relation to collecting consent from constituents and related rules for developing mail-lists for email communications.

Summary of key obligations

  1. Alumni relations, event notifications and fundraising each fall within the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR) definition of “marketing”. These regulations require us to collect “opt-in” consent in order to send any unprompted email communications.

  2. In addition, because the DARS email system (BBDM) uses email monitoring (to track open rates and click throughs) we are obliged to both inform constituents that we use this sort of email software and also ask them to confirm that they are happy that their receipt of our emails will be monitored.

  3. Special care needs to be taken whenever adding new email addresses to DARS in order to ensure that we are compliant with the PECR legislation relating to email marketing whilst simultaneously supporting endeavours to build up strong email lists for alumni relations and development purposes – recognising that email is a cost-effective and efficient form of communication, and that more of the information we will be sending to individuals in future will be in this format.

  4. At no stage may any individual be sent an email communication if the email address to which the communication would be sent is marked as ‘Do not email’; if they have an active negative Mail Preference for this communication stored on their record; if they have a relevant active Solicit Code stored on their record; or if the email communication is not relevant to them and it would be inappropriate to send it.

  5. Within any repeatable emails we send, a clear opportunity and method for the individual to opt-out of receiving the same type of email communication in future must be provided.

  6. Almost all communications must, as a minimum, include one of the short-form Data Protection wordings, but it is preferable wherever possible to use either the medium-form DP wording (see below) or the full DARS DP Statement. This is because any reply we receive to a communication with at least the medium-form version on it will enable us then to record a general opt-in consent for that individual, as an Attribute called ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’. The holding of this consent facilitates their data being used for email activity in future and marks their acceptance of our use of email monitoring tools.

  7. This medium-form wording has been incorporated within the Terms & Conditions/Privacy Policy for registration to the DARS web portal, Oxford Alumni Online, and it is required for all contact update forms. Thus we are already actively collecting this general consent from anyone who registers online and/or who returns their Oxford Today update form.

  8. There are other ways to collect this general consent, including verbally (see below). Only add the collected consent to their record if they have responded without objections.

  9. Having given their general consent, you can send these individuals email communications, but after sending them any particular repeatable communication for the first time, a positive Mail Preference must be added to their record with a Comment of “Collected consent for marketing activities added [Period] so currently assume consent for [Next Period] onwards”.

  10. In addition to collecting general consent, opportunities to opt in or out of specific email lists can be added to any reply or update forms (including on the web through Oxford Alumni Online) and/or suggested verbally or in writing to individuals. Positive responses to such requests can be used to build up more preference-focused email lists over time.

  11. If an individual has historically been receiving a particular email communication to this point, and has not elected to opt-out, then their consent to continue receiving it in future can be assumed, but a positive Mail Preference must be added to their record with a Comment of “Existing recipient up to [Period] so currently assume consent for [Next Period] onwards”.

  12. By agreement with the Head of DARS, it may be permissible when a new repeatable email communication (and therefore mailing list) has been created also to send it out for the first edition only to individuals for whom we have not yet collected general consent. After sending them this email communication, a positive Mail Preference must be added to these individuals’ records with a Comment of “Launch recipient [Period] so currently assume consent for [Next Period] onwards”.

  13. If a new primary email address is added to an active individual’s record without having collected their general consent, then we must send them an appropriate notification (see Appendix), along with a reminder 28 days later to those who don’t respond. Where no consent is provided, then a block must be added to the email address at this stage, as we are prevented under PECR from using this email for either bulk communication or one-to-one interaction.

  14. Participants may choose to send a more personalised follow-up to their Prospects and other key individuals where such a block on the email address exists as a result of no reply.

PECR and Data Protection framework in the DARS Rules

You should ensure that you are familiar with the DARS Rules for Participation and refer to the relevant sections of that document. Several specific obligations for email communications are set out in the DARS Rules for Participation:

  • (7.3.3b) In respect of all communications to Data Subjects, the Participant/User agrees that s/he or it and its Users (in respect of the Participant) will record any communication sent within the communications or interactions tab within DARS as applicable.
  • (7.3.3d) In respect of marketing by email, only contact Data Subjects by email if they have consented to receiving such emails.
  • (7.3.3e) In respect of all email communications, send one of the following [short form] footers as applicable:

    o For general emails not attaching a publication:
    “Please see here [hyperlink to DP Statement] for information on the way in which your personal data are held and used in DARS. If you no longer wish to be contacted by [insert name of college or department] by email, or wish to alter the way your data are held and used, please send a suitably worded email to [insert address].

    o For emails attaching a publication:
    “Please see here [hyperlink to DP Statement] for information on the way in which your personal data are held and used in DARS. If you no longer wish to be contacted by [insert name of college or department] by email, or wish to alter the way your data are held and used, or no longer wish to receive [specific type of email communication to which the footer is attached, e.g. our monthly Alumni e-bulletin, e-Pidge], please send a suitably worded email to [insert address
    ].'”

  • (9.4) The Participant/User is reminded that under the DPA and PECR, the Participant/User must respect the wishes of the Data Subjects in respect of the types of communication sent to them and contact for marketing/fundraising purposes must only be made by email, text, fax or automated call, with explicit consent from the Data Subject.


To ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998) and with PECR, it is strongly advisable for us over time collectively to obtain a general “opt-in” consent from constituents that covers both the storing of their data in DARS and the subsequent use of this data for a range of purposes as outlined in the DARS DP Statement, rather than continuing to rely only on our existing “opt-out” approach over the longer term. Practically speaking, this wider opt-in consent means obtaining their acknowledgement by active response to the following statement:

“We want to ensure that we keep the details we hold about you up to date and communicate with you fully in accordance with your wishes. Your data will continue to be used for the purposes of communication and marketing activities by post, e-mail, telephone, fax or text message, unless you indicate otherwise. We use tools to monitor the effectiveness of our communications with you, including email tracking, which records when an e-mail from us is opened and/or how many links are clicked within the message. The data from this tracking are generally used in an aggregated and anonymised form. If at any time your details change or you wish to add to or remove from the list of communications sent to you then please contact us. Your data are held securely in the University’s shared Development and Alumni Relations System (DARS), which will help ensure your details are up to date and improve our communications with you. The data may be used by colleges, faculties, departments, administrative units, international offices, recognised alumni societies, sports and other entities associated with the University, and agents contracted by the University in that capacity. Full details on how your data are held and used are set out in our Data Protection Statement at www.alumni.ox.ac.uk/data_protection or you can request a hard copy from the address below. Some sensitive personal data may be held in DARS. If at any time you have any queries about the use of your personal data in DARS, or wish to change the fact of, or extent of, use of your personal data, please contact [Participant Name], quoting your Alumni Card number (if you have one), at: [Participant Contact Details].”

This specific medium-form DP wording above has been incorporated within the registration process for Oxford Alumni Online and it is required by the Rules for all contact update forms (7.3.4).

Rather than attempting to collect two different levels of consent simultaneously, one specifically for email communications and the other for the overall holding and use of their data in DARS, our approach is to follow a single process of collecting general consent, which thereby includes their data being used for the purposes of communication and marketing activities by email.

Recording on DARS

This general consent is recorded in an individual’s record using the Constituent Attribute Collected consent for marketing activities.

collecting consent. Edit collecting consent.

At any time, an individual can also opt-in to join, or opt-out of being on, a specific email list. These specific opt-ins and opt-outs to particular email lists must be recorded within Mail Preferences on the individual’s record. An individual can additionally request not to receive certain types of communication (e.g. Do Not Email – Collegiate University, No Event Emails – Central University, etc) or even any communication at all (i.e. Do Not Contact – Collegiate University), and this must be recorded within Solicit Codes on the individual’s record.

Should an individual be happy to receive email marketing and communications but request that a particular email address is not used for this purpose, then:

  • If this email address may still be used for non-marketing purposes, e.g. in particular one-to-one correspondence, then this is best handled by marking another email address on the individual’s record as the primary email (you should contact the individual if no other valid email exists to ascertain which alternative email address should be used); or
  • If this email address may not be used for any purpose, you must tick the ‘Do not email’ box, which thereby prevents the email address from being used at all. Add an appropriate Source, End Date and Comment to explain why this has been ticked.

Regardless of any general consent given, at no stage may an individual be sent an email communication if any of these statements is true:

  • The email address to which the communication is to be sent is marked as ‘Do not email’;
  • They have an active negative Mail Preference for this communication stored on their record which prevents them from receiving this communication;
  • They have a relevant active Solicit Code stored on their record which prevents them from receiving this communication; or
  • The email communication is not relevant to them and it would be inappropriate to send it.

See DARS Solicit Codes and Mail Preferences for further details.

Developing email lists

  1. Opportunities to join (opt-in to) a specific email list can be added to update forms, reply forms, etc and/or suggested verbally or in writing to individuals. We are also now able to offer these options online through the DARS web portal Oxford Alumni Online. In this way, positive responses to such requests can be used to build up more preference-focused email lists over time.

  2. When presenting constituents with options for subscribing to email lists on printed or electronic forms, you should consider including the following text to make alumni aware of our use of email monitoring software:

    “Please be aware that we use email monitoring tools to increase the effectiveness of our communications. By subscribing to an email list you are agreeing to our use of such tools.”

  3. Where the ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’ Attribute exists on an individual’s record without an End Date against it, then that person may be added to an existing email list set up in Mail Preferences, provided:
    • The email address to which the communication is to be sent is not marked as ‘Do not email’;
    • They do not have an active negative Mail Preference for this communication stored on their record which prevents them from receiving this communication;
    • They do not have a relevant active Solicit Code stored on their record which prevents them from receiving this communication; and
    • The email communication is relevant to them and it would be appropriate to send it.

    Having been sent this email communication for the first time, a positive Mail Preference must be added to the individual’s record with a Comment of “Collected consent for marketing activities added [Period] so currently assume consent for [Next Period] onwards” to record this.

  4. Similarly, if an individual has already been receiving a particular email communication to this point, e.g. pre-DARS, and has not yet elected to opt-out, then their consent to continue receiving it in future can be assumed, but a positive Mail Preference must be added to the individual with a Comment of “Existing recipient up to [Period] so currently assume consent for [Next Period] onwards” to record this.
  5. Mail Pref.

    Edit Mail Pref.

  6. By prior agreement with the Head of DARS, it may in certain circumstances be permissible when a new email communication (and therefore mailing list) has been created to send it out for the first time/edition (only) to individuals who do not have existing consents in place, provided:
  • The email address to which the communication is to be sent is not marked as ‘Do not email’;
  • They do not have an active negative Mail Preference for this communication stored on their record which prevents them from receiving this communication;
  • They do not have a relevant active Solicit Code stored on their record which prevents them from receiving this communication; and
  • The email communication is relevant to them and it would be appropriate to send it.

In addition to the standard Data Protection wording that must be included, a clear opportunity and method for the individual to opt-out of this new communication must be provided within the body of the email. Having been sent the email, a positive Mail Preference must be added to the individual’s record with a Comment of “Launch recipient [Period] so currently assume consent for [Next Period] onwards”.

The above approach is only applicable to the launch of new email communications; it is not permissible for adding new recipients to existing email lists over time – to comply with PECR obligations, the existence of either general consent or an opt-in is mandatory for the latter.

The process for collecting general consent

All users must take special care whenever adding new email addresses to DARS in order to ensure that we are compliant with PECR whilst supporting endeavours to build up strong email lists for alumni relations and development purposes.

The appropriate process is determined by how the new email address or other contact data is being collected (n.b. in each case below it assumes they have not yet provided general consent – i.e. the Attribute is not already present on their record):

  1. Oxford Alumni Online: If the individual has registered with Oxford Alumni Online, then when the registration is processed the ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’ Attribute will be added via an automatic overnight process to their record. This will therefore be our most efficient way of collecting general consent and developing email lists over time.

  2. Update Forms: If the medium-form Data Protection wording (see above) is included on an update form or similar and the individual replies to this, then when their reply is processed the ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’ Attribute can be added manually to their record as well, provided the individual has not stated any preference to the contrary. (The same principle can be applied to event booking forms, online forms, etc, wherever there is space to include the medium-form DP wording).

  3. Verbally: If contact details have been given by the individual either in person or over the phone, then at the point of receiving these you should notify the individual that:

    “Your data are held securely in the University’s shared Development and Alumni Relations System, DARS; please let me know if you’d like any further details. We’d like to continue to use your data to communicate with you about how to stay involved with Oxford, by email as well as post, telephone, fax or text message, for a range of communication and marketing activities, for example with the [insert example, e.g. Alumni e-Pidge monthly email]. We also want to make you aware that we use email monitoring tools to increase the effectiveness of our communications. By subscribing to an email list you are agreeing to our use of such tools – is this all ok?”

    A “softer” alternative for face to meetings is permissible as follows:

    “Are you happy for me to keep a note of our conversation for future reference [this will need checking individually if it refers to personal sensitive data about health, religion, politics etc]. We'd love to keep you up-to-date with what's happening at Oxford and in the Campaign in the future, either by email or paper. Would that be okay?”

    If the individual responds positively to either of the above questions, then add the Attribute ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’ to their record.

    If the individual responds negatively, then try to find out if there is specific information or types of communication that they don’t want to receive and explain that they can opt-out from receiving different mailings or types of communication (you must add the applicable Mail Preferences or Solicit Codes to their record in such instances).

    If they want to receive further information, provide a brief explanation of DARS and direct them to the DARS DP Statement online at https://www.alumniweb.ox.ac.uk/oao/dataprotection for full details of how their data will be stored and used (or agree to send them a copy electronically or by post, or by hand if you are with them).

    In all cases, only add the ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’ Attribute to their record if they respond without objections. Should an individual be happy to receive email marketing and communications but request that a particular email address not be used for this purpose, then follow the steps outlined above in the ‘Recording on DARS’ section.

    If the question is not asked, and the constituent has not previously received emails without objection to this or another email address, then their email address should be marked on DARS as ‘Do not email’ with a Comment of ‘Internal Decision - no consent yet provided for communications and marketing activities’, so that the individual is not included in mass mailings.

  4. All Other: If a new primary email address has been added to an individual without collecting general consent (e.g. as result of research, from a reply form with only one of the short-forms of the DP wording, through being handed a business card with no time for verbal consent, from a non-DARS college or department, or from another third-party source such as a volunteer), then a monthly process should be established to send them the notification provided in Appendix 1, with a scheduled email reminder after 28 days to those who still have not responded.

    If the individual responds positively to any of these notifications, then add the ‘Collected consent for marketing activities’ Attribute to their record, together with any restrictions requested by the individual.

    If the individual responds negatively to any of these notifications, or if no reply after a further ten days following the reminder, then mark the relevant email address as ‘Do not email’ with an appropriate Source, End Date and Comment (e.g. “Did not reply to email marketing consent request or reminder”) to explain why this has been ticked.

    Note that this will prevent the email address from being used for one-to-one correspondence interactions as well as bulk communications, so a personalised follow-up may be desirable later for certain Prospects or other key individuals where such a block on the email address exists as a result of no reply. Such personalised follow-ups are left to the discretion of each Participant.

In order to proactively collect general consent over time and further extend our email lists, a process should be established to segment those individuals for whom we have collected an email address prior to July 2012 into manageable chunks and follow a variation of the monthly process outlined in point 4 above, using the notification provided in Appendix 2. Note that with this wording, although a reply would be required in order to add the general consent Attribute, it is not required in order to continue sending emails to the relevant person, as otherwise we might terminate email contact with an individual against their wishes. So this is a softer approach to collecting consent which could be repeated periodically.

A separate policy is being finalised with regard to sending a ‘Welcome Pack’ (or other appropriate communication containing the full two-page DARS DP Statement) to new active individuals added to DARS, including those which were previously “Prospect/Potential Contacts” but are now full records. We will be able to add the general consent Attribute to those who reply positively to this (e)mailing.


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