A Threat to Your Ministry and Donors’ Privacy

Your Donors’ Privacy is Critical

As a ministry leader, you know how valuable the confidentiality of your donors is. When they give to the ministry, they are often entrusting you to keep their gift private.

Here at Alliance Defending Freedom, we have a Ministry Friend Bill of Rights. The first item on our list of rights is that we will never “sell, rent, or make available your name or information related to your gifts for non-Alliance Defending Freedom purposes.”

We go to great lengths to protect the confidentiality of those who entrust us with their gifts. We imagine you do too.

Donor Privacy Threatened

What if someone told you that the ministry you lead would have to hand over its major donors’ information to the government? And when you looked into the issue, you found out the government was careless with that donor information. In fact, it had a history of carelessly leaking donor information online – including donors’ addresses.

If the ministry you lead does fundraising in California, you may know that this is not an imagined scenario. All of this has happened – the forced disclosure, and the leaking of names and addresses.

California is not alone in undermining donor privacy. A few other states have similar regulations, and ever more states are looking to begin tracking soon.

Protecting Donor Privacy

Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is one of the nonprofits fundraising in California that is subject to California’s donor-disclosure mandate.

TMLC was troubled by California’s actions. It was rightfully wary of its donors’ private information being given to the California Attorney General or leaked to the public. And in today’s polarized cultural climate, it was concerned that people would attempt to “cancel” the organization’s donors for their support of pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family values.

Instead of letting its constitutional rights of freedom of association and donor privacy be trampled, TMLC sued the state.

The lawsuit made its way to the United States Supreme Court, where Alliance Defending Freedom represented TMLC. Oral arguments were heard on April 26, and we expect a ruling from the Court near the end of June. Precedent-setting cases like this also have the potential to safeguard your rights as a ministry leader.

Sign the statement

What Is at Stake?

The Supreme Court case Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta could have significant implications for ministries and their donors.

Those with views outside of the current cultural orthodoxy are most at risk. Undermining donor privacy could threaten the existence of some ministries and even the physical safety of donors.

When private gifts to ministries become known to the public, the long-term potential impact is not hard to imagine, and may lead to numerous harms:

  1. Officials may use confidential donor info to discover and target those with disfavored views, as they did during the Civil Rights Era.
  2. Activists will attempt to bully, punish, or “cancel” those who give to their ideological opponents.
  3. Public harassment and social ostracization may lead some donors to stop giving.
  4. The free marketplace of ideas in our nation will suffer.

What Can You Do? Uphold Donor Privacy

Government should not be in the business of tracking private donors’ beliefs or which nonprofits they support.

How Americans give to charities and causes – including whether that gift is public, known only to the recipient, or entirely anonymous – should be a private matter that each decides for himself.

By supporting donor privacy, you can defend the rights of your donors and protect your ministry’s future. Your support advances the common good and helps preserve ministries’ ability to share the Gospel.

Sign the Statement of Support

By supporting donor privacy, you can defend the rights of all Americans. Your support advances the common good and helps preserve ministries’ ability to share the Gospel. Sign your name below if you agree with the following.

  1. I stand with Thomas More Law Center’s ability to protect its donors’ privacy.
  2. I stand against any effort to end Americans’ ability to privately give to charities and other causes.
  3. I stand with Alliance Defending Freedom in its efforts to advance the common good and uphold the freedom to give privately.
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