Free Speech

The Latest Threats to Donor Privacy

Thirty-one states are considering legislation that has the potential to threaten nonprofit donors’ privacy in 2024.

A recent People United for Privacy memo found that 31 states are considering legislation that has the potential to threaten nonprofit donors’ privacy in 2024. This list includes:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

This issue affects individuals across the ideological spectrum, and these threats to free speech and donor privacy are seen in Democratic and Republican-controlled state legislatures.

These threats can come in the form of legislation that requires nonprofits disclosure their donors as well as their donors’ donors through what is called “original source” donor disclosure.

In 2022, Proposition 211 passed in Arizona, requiring any nonprofit organization spending over $50,000 over a two-year period on “campaign media spending” (which as defined can include discussing policy issues) to publicly disclose the names of anyone who donated over $5,000 during that period. It also requires original source donor disclosure for donations that meet these requirements. This year, states, such as Hawaii, Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon, are considering legislation or rules with similar language.

Proponents of increased donor disclosure requirements claim this will increase transparency. In reality, it will intimidate individuals from supporting causes they believe in out of fear of harassment. Ultimately, this leads to suppression of speech. In the case of original source disclosure, this will also lead to people being publicly associated with organizations they never directly supported.

ALEC’s Resolution in Support of Nonprofit Donor Privacy supports donor privacy and opposes efforts to expand donor disclosure requirements for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Read more about ALEC’s policy solutions in our publication, Essential Policy Solutions for 2024.

In Depth: Free Speech

Freedom of speech is paramount for the American system of government and American culture. Born from revolution, American society has been created, evolved and progressed based in part, on the First Amendment. More specifically, free speech allows individual’s to use their own voice to ensure “We the People” would control…

+ Free Speech In Depth