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In just the past two years, the legislatures in the states of Hawaii and Illinois have considered legislation that would have required nonprofits to undertake costly and cumbersome mail reduction practices.

A law that passed in Hawaii would have required a nonprofit to get its donors' permission before giving their names to other nonprofits - this is what is called an "opt in" provision.

We have received calls from people who are upset, even irate, about getting solicitations that don't relate to them, for example, solicitations from the Republican or Democratic party, when that is not their political affiliation.

Many people complain about continuing to get unwanted mail for their deceased spouse or parent, after they've notified the entity many times not to contact them.5.

Any organization creating, maintaining, using, or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take precautions to prevent misuse of the data.

While this principle has relatively little application to nonprofits, there are some instances where it does.We got a call from a woman who had written over 2,000 letters in the past couple years, asking to be taken off various and sundry mailing lists.She kept detailed records of all her correspondence and its effect.This situation could happen just as easily to a nonprofit.You can see how important it is to hold your membership AND employee and volunteer records in a secure environment, especially for nonprofits that work in controversial areas -- such as gay rights, reproductive choice, and even environmental issues. I want to conclude by reviewing a checklist I've prepared especially for nonprofits -- what you can do to adhere to fair information practices guidelines and practice responsible information handling. Does the source of the list purge the people who don't want their names released before giving you the list? Do you use a mailing service bureau which subscribes to the Mail Preference Service data base?

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