Privacy policy

At the Marine Conservation Society we take your privacy very seriously and are committed to protecting your personal information.

Please read this policy, along with our website terms and conditions carefully to understand how we collect, use and store your personal information.

Who we are

The Marine Conservation Society fights for a cleaner, better-protected, healthier ocean. We are a registered charity in England and Wales 1004005 and in Scotland SC037480. Registered company limited by guarantee in England and Wales 02550966. Registered office:

Overross House
Ross Park
HR9 7US.

VAT number: 321491232.

The Marine Conservation Society is the ‘controller’ of your personal information and is responsible for it. This privacy policy explains how we, the Marine Conservation Society, and M C S Sales may collect and use the information you give us.

The Marine Conservation Society Board of Trustees is ultimately accountable for our strategic approach to data protection.

Based on an assessment of the criteria outlined in the GDPR we have concluded that we are not required to appoint a statutory Data Protection Officer. This is because the Marine Conservation Society:

  1. is not a public authority;
  2. core activities do not involve the regular and systematic monitoring of people on a large scale; and
  3. core activities do not consist of the processing on a large scale of special categories of data or personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences.

The Director of Finance & Resources is the Data Protection Lead and is responsible for providing data protection oversight and expertise to the organisation. The Director of Finance & Resources has operational responsibility for our good practice and will be accountable for maintaining the Data Controller notification with the ICO and Records of Processing Activity (ROPA, see section 4.4). We will pay the required data protection fee and be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with the following reference: Z2641597.

This policy includes:

  • How we collect personal information
  • What categories of personal information we collect
  • How we will use your personal information
  • Communicating with you
  • Supporter analysis
  • Facebook marketing
  • Children’s data
  • Our use of cookies
  • How we keep your personal information safe and who has access to it
  • Who we share your personal data with
  • How we keep your information up-to-date
  • How long we keep your information for
  • Our legal basis for processing your information
  • Your rights
  • Complaints
  • Changes to this privacy policy

How we collect personal information

We collect personal information in the following ways:

When you provide it directly

For example, when you:

  • Enquire about our activities or services
  • Visit our website
  • Use our apps
  • Join as a member
  • Make a donation
  • Sign up to receive updates from us
  • Create or update a profile
  • Post content to our website or via our social media (including Facebook)
  • Volunteer for us
  • Meet with us
  • Take part in one of our events, campaign or fundraise for us
  • Communicate with us (either online, by email, phone, SMS or post)

When you provide it indirectly

For example, when it is shared with us by third parties such as professional fundraisers, partners, or subcontractors acting on our behalf, or through fundraising sites such as JustGiving or Virgin Money. These organisations will have their own privacy policies, and/or statements so please do ensure you check when providing your personal information to them.

When you have given other organisations permission to share it

You may have provided your details to another organisation that works with us. For example, in order to sign up to a third party event, or if you purchased a product via When working with other organisations, we work to ensure it’s completely clear to you that your information will be shared with us. The information we get from these third parties depends on your settings and the permissions and choices you have provided, so you should regularly check what you have agreed that these third party organisations may share with us or with others.

Via social media

Depending on your settings and the relevant policies and terms of service, when using social media and messaging services like Facebook and Twitter, you might give us permission to access information about you from those accounts or services.

When we collect information when you are using our website

Upon visiting our website, information about your visit is recorded and stored. See the section below on the use of cookies for more details.

When your information is available from public sources

We may collect personal information about you from the public domain, such as from open social networks (e.g. LinkedIn and Twitter), company websites, political and property registers, news archives, the Charity Commission, Companies House and Bloomberg.

To administer legacies

In the course of administering legacies gifted to us we may obtain the personal information of, for example, other beneficiaries to the will. We also work with third party probate specialists who provide us with this information, and sometimes obtain it from other charities who are named in the will.

What categories of personal information we collect

The types of personal information we collect depends on how we intend to use it.

We collect, store and use the following kinds of personal information:

  • Identity data, including your name, username, date of birth (for example, if you become a member, make a donation, volunteer for us, campaign, provide sighting information or sign up to an event or to access resources)
  • Contact data, including your email address, postal address, and phone number (for example, if you join as a member or sign up to receive updates from us)
  • Financial data, including bank or payment card details (for example, if you join as a member or make a donation)
  • Transaction data, including details of your giving
  • Technical data such as your IP address, when you browse our website
  • Marketing data such as your preferences for receiving communications from us
  • Any other information you provide us as above (see “How we collect personal information”)

Where it is appropriate, we may ask for your reason for giving and your specific interests relating to our work. This is because we want to ensure our communications with you are relevant and appropriate.

To achieve this, we carry out targeted marketing activity to ensure we provide the best experience for our supporters and the most efficient and effective use of our charitable resources. In doing so, we may supplement information you provide us with information we collect from third party sources. This is to help us better understand your background and ensure any requests for additional support are tailored to you and how you might support us. This also helps us reduce irrelevant or inappropriate communications to our supporters, so that we can operate as cost effectively as possible. This information may include:

  • Your parliamentary constituency
  • An estimate of your age based on publicly available sources
  • An estimate of the size and composition of your household
  • Information about your interests including shopping preferences, TV subscriptions and hobbies

Sensitive personal information

Data protection law identifies certain categories of personal information as sensitive and therefore requiring more protection. For example, information about health or ethnicity. Where appropriate we may also collect/use this information, but normally only where we have your explicit consent or data protection law allows it, such as to protect the life of an individual volunteering or participating in a fundraising event. We only aim to collect this type of information when we feel it is necessary in relation to your relationship with us.

How we will use your personal information

We will use your personal information in a number of ways depending on the purposes for which it has been collected, including for the following purposes:

  • To provide you with the services or any information you have requested
  • To update you about any changes to our services
  • To communicate with you as set out in this policy below (including administrative communications as well as communications about our work, services, volunteering, citizen science, fundraising and events)
  • To administer payments such as donations, including Gift Aid processing
  • To display your profile or content on the website (if you have agreed to do so)
  • To administer our website and for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research, statistical and survey purposes.
  • To maintain our organisational records and ensure we have your most up-to-date details, including marketing preferences
  • To help us improve our services, campaigns or information-offering, and improve your interactions with our website (including via cookies)
  • To enable you to participate in interactive features on our website
  • To enable you to participate in voluntary surveys or research
  • To analyse your website behaviour
  • To tailor advertising that is presented to you on the internet according to your interests, preferences and other characteristics, and to measure or understand the effectiveness of advertising we serve to you and others, and to deliver relevant advertising to you
  • To administer your volunteering or employment application
  • To assist in your voluntary or fundraising work, or to run our events
  • To deal with enquiries and/or complaints made by or about you
  • To audit and/or administer our accounts
  • To help us work with third parties to ensure that we send you targeted communications (see “What categories of personal information do we collect?” above)
  • To contact you where you have been identified as a contact person for an organisation, such as a school
  • To identify relevant networks and other suitable partners for the Marine Conservation Society

We always want you to get the most out of our website, so if you do experience any issues with our online forms we may follow up with you to find out how our team can best support you with any problems experienced.

Communicating with you

Administrative communications

We will communicate with you using the contact details you have provided for essential administrative purposes, such as to support your volunteering, administer your membership or donation or provide you with information regarding a fundraising event you have asked to take part in.

Marketing communications

We love to keep our supporters up to date with our membership, volunteering and campaign activity.

If you have given us your consent to do so, we will contact you for marketing purposes by email, SMS message and telephone calls. We may also send you communications by post, on the basis it is in our legitimate interests to do so, unless you ask us not to.

We currently send the following marketing materials:

  1. Membership communications – including a welcome pack and regular magazine as well as information on our Annual General Meeting.
  2. Volunteering – information about how you can get involved with volunteering for us.
  3. Updates about our work via email.
  4. Campaigns – information about our campaigning activities and their progress.

(e) Appeals and fundraising activities – including information on how to join us as members, requests for donations, information about how you can leave us a gift in your will, and how you can take part in fundraising events or fundraise on our behalf, as well as the impact all of this has on our work.

(f) Events – including details of our challenge events and other sponsored activities. If you sign up to take part in an event we will also send you administrative communications about how you can take part.

(g) Shop products – including information about products offered by our online shop

You are in control of how we use your personal information for membership, volunteering and fundraising purposes, and can update your preferences at any time. If you would like to contact us about your marketing preferences, please write to us at Overross House,
Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7US, email is at [email protected] or call on 01989 566017 and our team will be happy to answer any questions you have.

If you do ask us to stop sending marketing communications, please note that we will continue to send you administrative communications as needed.

If you ask us to stop sending you marketing materials, we will keep a record of your contact details and appropriate information to enable us to comply with your request not to be contacted by us.

Supporter analysis

We may analyse your personal information to create a profile about you, your interests and preferences. In doing this, we may combine information that you have given us with other information about you when it is available (for example, from public records or social media). This may include any of the information listed above (for example, an estimate of your age). This provides background information about our supporters and helps us to tailor appropriate communications to them as well as helping us to improve the quality of our supporters’ experience with us. We may use third party suppliers to undertake these activities on our behalf and share your data with them only to the extent required (usually full name and post code). Please rest assured that our suppliers will not share this information with any other organisation and it will only be used for the purposes set out above. Additionally, we may use and disclose information in aggregate (so that no individuals are identified) for marketing and strategic development purposes.

Facebook marketing

Using social media is a great way for us to update you on our work, and let you know the difference your support is making. Using this method is the most efficient way for us to reach more people who are likely to take an interest in our work, meaning we use our funds most effectively.

We participate in Facebook’s audience matching program which enables us to display ads to our existing supporters when they visit Facebook. We provide your email address, mobile number and address, to Facebook so they can determine whether you are a registered account holder with them. Our adverts may then appear when you access Facebook. Your data is sent in an encrypted format that is deleted by Facebook if it does not match with a Facebook account.

We may also use your data to create ‘lookalike’ audiences on Facebook. This means that Facebook will match interests, behaviour and demographics of our supporters to identify other Facebook users who closely match their interests. Facebook will then service adverts to these people promoting our work. Using this method is the most efficient way for us to reach more people who are likely to take an interest in our work, meaning we use our funds most effectively.

We sometimes share your data information with our media partner agencies who may also share email addresses with Facebook on our behalf.

We also participate in Facebook’s audience preference services. This remembers supporters who have responded in the past to our fundraising and marketing requests. There are two ways to prevent this use of your data, you can either update your preferences with us by opting out of the relevant channel of communication or you can do this via the relevant social media sites.

We only do this where you have opted in to receive marketing communications from us. No data we hold about you is retained by the third party.

Children’s data

While we do not actively collect information from children (under-18s), we appreciate that our supporters are of all ages. Where appropriate, we will always ask for consent from a parent or guardian to collect information about children. All our volunteering activities and events will have clear rules on whether or not children can take part and the collection of data will be managed in accordance with each individual event, with appropriate safeguards in place. For campaigns, anyone over 13 can sign our petitions.

Our use of cookies

'Cookies' are small pieces of information stored on your computer or mobile device when you visit our website, to collect information and identify you. We provide separate information about our use of cookies here.

How we keep your data safe and who has access to it

We place great importance on the security of your personal information and always take appropriate precautions to protect it.

We ensure that there are security measures in place to protect your personal data. For example, we use encryption technology on our websites and carry out regular security reviews on our network.

We only allow authorised personnel to have access to your information i.e. our staff, volunteers or contractors and ensure that they are appropriately trained.

Payment details (such as credit or debit cards) we receive through our website are passed securely to our payment processing providers who meet the required Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards. We do not store your card details, when donations are made in this way.

Despite all of our precautions no data transmission over the internet can be guaranteed to be 100% secure.

Who we share your personal data with

Sometimes, we use external organisations to process personal data on our behalf – for example suppliers and subcontractors, payment providers, mailing houses, legacy administrators and external fundraising entities and platforms. Before working with these companies we perform rigorous checks to ensure they provide appropriate safeguards in respect of your personal data and treat it in accordance with the law. We always ensure we have a contract in place with these third party suppliers, and those contracts include robust data protection requirements.

Financial or technical considerations may occasionally lead us to use the services of a supplier based outside the UK or European Economic Area (EEA), which in turn might lead to your personal information being transferred, processed and stored outside of the UK or EEA. Where necessary, we take steps to provide suitable safeguards to protect your personal information, so that these transfers are compliant with data protection laws. If you would like to receive further information about this, please contact our Data Protection Officer.

We may share your personal information with our trading subsidiary, M C S Sales so they can contact you where this is legitimate reason and/or is appropriate.

We might need to share your personal information with others if we are under a duty to do so or to comply with a legal obligation, or in order to protect the rights, property or safety of the Marine Conservation Society, our employees, volunteers, supporters or others. This includes for example sharing details with the police or for regulatory reasons.

How we keep your information up-to-date

Where possible, we try to keep your records up to date; for example, using the Post Office’s National Change of Address database. However, we really appreciate it if you let us know if your contact details change.

How long we keep your information for

For some information we hold, there are legal requirements which determine how long we must keep it. For example, HMRC require us to retain details of Gift Aid for at least six years after the year in which the last donation was made.

Generally, we hold your personal information on our systems for as long as is necessary for the relevant activity, for example, in general we will only keep your contact information for as long as our interactions with you continue and for six years thereafter.

After such a period, within our database, we anonymise records so we can reference behavioural patterns in our data analytics, but the information is no longer personal to you.

Legacy income is vital to sustaining our work. We may keep some of your personal information if we receive a pledge, intention to pledge or enquiry into leaving a legacy for at least six years after we receive the full gift or longer in some circumstances, so that we can administer legacy gifts and communicate effectively with the families of people leaving us legacies. This also enables us to identify and analyse the source of legacy income we receive.

Our legal basis for processing your information

Data privacy law requires us to have one or more lawful grounds to process your personal information. The following grounds are relevant to our use of your information:

  • Consent. In many cases we will seek consent to process your personal information, for example to send you marketing and fundraising emails, and text messages or for photo consent. Where we do rely on consent, you are entitled to withdraw it at any time.
  • To protect your vital interests. For example to ensure you get urgent medical assistance if needed when volunteering or competing in a fundraising event.
  • Where we have a contractual relationship with you. Though the majority of our relationships are voluntary, if we enter into a contract with you we will process information to administer that contract.
  • Legal obligations. We will sometimes pass on personal information to comply with legal obligations such as providing tax and gift aid information to HMRC.
  • “Legitimate Interests”. Where it is appropriate we rely on the processing being in our legitimate interests, provided we are confident that such processing is not likely to override your own legitimate interests or rights and freedoms.

The Marine Conservation Society’s legitimate interests are ultimately in pursuit of our charitable objectives, including:

  • Governance and operational management, such as statutory reporting and intergroup transfers with our trading company, and employee and volunteer administration and management
  • Publicity and income generation, such as membership, marketing and fundraising, events, and supporter analysis
  • Administration, such as Gift Aid
  • Financial management and control, such as processing donations

Your rights

You retain ultimate control of how we use your personal information.

You can always request details and copies of the information we hold about you.

Data privacy law gives you a number of additional rights. These include:

  • The right to rectification: To have personal information amended if it is inaccurate or incomplete. You can ask us to check the personal data that we hold about you if you are unsure.
  • The right to erasure: In some cases, to have your personal information erased (or anonymised), including when consent is withdrawn, your information is being unlawfully processed or it is no longer necessary for us to process it.
  • The right to data portability. Where we are processing your information on the basis of consent you can request it to be transferred from one service provider to another in a suitable format.
  • The right to object. You can ask us to stop processing your personal information in certain circumstances, including an absolute right to ask us to stop processing for direct marketing.
  • The right to restrict processing. If there is any disagreement about the accuracy or legitimate usage of your personal information, you can ask us to “hold” it but not use it further, whilst the issue is resolved.
  • You also have rights in relation to “automated decision making”. The Marine Conservation Society does not currently undertake this activity, which involves complex computerised processes which produce legal effects.

If you want to enforce any of these rights in respect to your personal information, please contact: The Data Protection Officer, Marine Conservation Society, Overross House, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7US or email us at [email protected].

Please be aware that the above descriptions are necessarily brief and non-legal. You may only exercise some of these rights in limited circumstances and for more information on these rights please read the relevant guidance issued by the ICO, the regulatory body in the UK for data privacy.


If you would like to make a complaint about how we process your personal data, please contact our Data Protection Officer by emailing us at [email protected].

You are entitled to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office at any time. However, we are grateful for the opportunity to address your concerns before you feel this step is necessary.

Please note that you can also register with the following services to stop receiving unsolicited marketing communications from a selected charity or charities:

Changes to this privacy policy

This policy may change from time to time. If we make any significant changes to this policy, we will publicise these changes clearly on our website or contact you directly with more information.

This privacy policy was last updated on 14th October 2022.

Please revisit this policy each time you consider giving your personal information to the Marine Conservation Society.

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