UNM Foundation’s Commitment to Donor Privacy

UNM Foundation’s Commitment to Donor Privacy

Posted July 3, 2018

As you may be aware, a state district judge recently ordered the UNM Foundation to respond to a request for donor records under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). After reviewing the district court’s order, and giving careful consideration to our legal, fiduciary, and moral obligations to the many loyal philanthropic contributors and supporters of The University of New Mexico, the Foundation has decided to appeal the district court’s decision.

This appeal is not about the Foundation, but rather every donors’ right to privacy – and each individual donor’s choice to exercise that right.

The UNM Foundation has a long relationship with the charitable giving community in our state and throughout the country. The backbone of any not-for-profit entity in America is the protection of the privacy of contributors who wish to give to causes or institutions they support without fanfare or public attention. Donors may wish to avoid opening a floodgate of possible solicitors for contributions or avoid publicity for the safety of their family and property. Some may not be interested in having their private contributions measured against those of others. All believe that their decision to contribute to a worthy cause is intensely personal, and in most instances should not open their private affairs to public scrutiny. Regardless of the individual reasons for giving, the privacy of this traditional relationship between giver and recipient has been understood, respected, and protected for generations.

This understanding is supported and protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives donors the right to freely associate with any organization, belief, or cause they wish, and to have those associations remain private if they wish. It is also recognized in the New Mexico statutory law, including NMSA Section 6-5A-1, and the New Mexico Charitable Solicitations Act, NMSA 1978, Section 57-22-1 et seq. A donor’s right to confidentiality is also promoted in the “Donor Bill of Rights” developed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the Giving Institute, four leading fundraising associations in the country.

The Foundation understands there are donors who desire publicity and who are happy to receive acknowledgment of their generosity. The Foundation is pleased to support their decision to promote their gift and does not prohibit individuals or other entities from choosing to publicize their own contributions to the University. However, we must continue to respect and support the wishes and rights of other givers whose only intention is to improve The University of New Mexico and support the areas about which they are passionate. We view this as a solemn duty to which we must adhere unless and until compelled otherwise by binding legal precedent from the New Mexico appellate courts.

The mission of the UNM Foundation remains to seek out and ask people from around the world to invest in scholarships for students, academic curricula, athletic programs, campus activities, or quality of life for the students, families, and initiatives at The University of New Mexico. The Foundation has always welcomed inquiries and provided information about the Foundation’s work, with the exception of donor information. By pursing appeal of the recent district court decision, we are seeking to protect the information and privacy of individuals who wish to keep their giving confidential.

Ours is a work of love and gratitude for a university and a community that contributes to the economic, cultural, and intellectual wellbeing of not just our state, but of the world.

The UNM Foundation is dedicated to the best interests of the students, families, faculty, and taxpayers of the State of New Mexico, which we do at the highest level of professionalism and performance. We see our efforts as filling the increasing responsibility of public universities to find private funding for higher education, and our efforts will not waiver.