by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
The John Locke Foundation recently published a report by Jon Guze, JLF’s Director of Legal Studies. The report focuses on threats to nonprofit donor privacy and the importance of defending it. In his report, Guze writes:
Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances: these are vitally important, fundamental rights that protect our ability to express ourselves freely, especially on matters of public policy…
Regulations that force nonprofits to disclose the names of their donors make people afraid to exercise these rights. That is why entrenched political interests favor such regulations, and that is why the rest of us must vigorously oppose them.
Guze’s report was picked up this week by Steve West, writing for WORLD. West writes:
When donors give money to a nonprofit, they don’t expect the organization to make their personal information public. And most nonprofit groups prohibit disclosing donor details. But elected officials in recent years have worked to erode that privacy under the guise of exposing the influence of “dark money” on causes or elections.
West summarizes the report’s historical summary of donor privacy, as well as Guze’s reasoning for its importance. West writes:
Some nonprofit groups worry that making donor lists public would subject supporters to harassment and could adversely affect giving. Donors also want to avoid solicitations from other charities, said Jon Guze, director of legal studies at North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation and author of a recent report titled, “Preserving Donor Privacy in North Carolina.” Others, particularly religious donors, believe it is more virtuous to give privately, he added.
Importantly, West mentions Guze’s notes on how disclosure laws threaten minority opinions the greatest. West writes:
Guze noted that disclosure laws have generally been used by those in power against those with minority views: “This has been something that Democrats have been pushing, but they should be reminded that there’s an ugly side to this. It can result in harm to the very groups they now say they want to support. … People shouldn’t be afraid to exercise their constitutional rights to free expression and association.”