Data protection statement for alumni and supporters

Data protection statement for alumni and supporters

At the University of Cambridge, philanthropy has driven impact for more than 800 years. Our responsibility as a leading teaching and research university is to serve an increasingly global society. Since the University was founded in 1209, the work of Cambridge scholars has had a profound effect upon the world. Cambridge scholars pioneered new interpretations of scripture, identified the building blocks of life, the origins of the universe and the origins of man. They invented the computer and the webcam, the rules of football and the jet engine. The impact of all of these things, ancient and modern, continues to resound around the world, just as our current work in clean energy, transport and food security will touch the lives of millions for generations yet to come.

This statement explains how the University (“we” and “our”) handles and uses the personal data we collect about our alumni and our past, current and future supporters, whether donors, volunteers, participants in membership groups that we run, or attendees at events that we organise (“you” and “your”). “The University” in this context means the central University, our individual Schools, Faculties, Departments and research institutes, and the museums, libraries and other cultural and recreational facilities that we operate. Developing a better understanding of our alumni and supporters allows us to keep in touch with you to keep you apprised of our activities and developments, to provide services to you, and to identify ways in which you can support us through donations or other forms of financial and non-financial support.

We are committed to protecting your personal information and being transparent about what information we hold. The University has a range of data protection policies and procedures, an overview of which can be found here: The following statement sets out how the University specifically uses your personal data for fundraising and alumni relations purposes.

Personal data that we hold

We may hold information relating to you from several sources. A significant proportion of the information we hold on alumni is that which you provide to us (for example, you may give us information by filling in forms on the University's website, or by corresponding with us by telephone, email or otherwise). If you are a student or studied at Cambridge, some of your personal data is transferred from your student record to the University’s alumni database.

Most records contain:

  • details of your education (e.g. your College(s), the courses you have completed, dates of study)
  • unique personal identifiers and biographical information (e.g. student number, date of birth)
  • your contact details (and we update these whenever you let us know that they have changed)
  • details of your interactions with the University and Colleges, including:
    • your membership of clubs, societies, and Alumni Groups
    • your attendance at College or University events, including any photographs, audio or video recordings
    • other contact with us or our partners (as listed below)
    • details of benefits and services provided to you, including those set out at
    • your relationships with other alumni or supporters of the University and Colleges
  • details about your family (e.g. your marital status, the name of your partner or spouse)
  • personal data provided by you for a specific purpose (e.g. disability and dietary preferences for event management purposes)
  • your communication preferences, to help us provide tailored and relevant communications

We also record, where applicable, based on information which you provide to us and, in some cases, publicly available information and information from our partners (as listed below):

  • financial information relating to you and your family, including:
    • your history of donations made to the University and Colleges
    • your ability and willingness to make donations, including our assessment of your income and whether particular donations or funding appeals may be of interest to you
    • your philanthropy and other giving, including donations to other organisations and other support that you provide (e.g. details of volunteering roles)
  • your career highlights and other life achievements
  • information about your areas of interest and extra-curricular activities

We augment the data we hold from the University and the Colleges with data from our partners (as listed below) and publicly available data.

We use targeted internet searches and may search the following websites (either directly or using search engines), where relevant to obtain and maintain the accuracy of the data listed above:

  • Public sources for companies (to find personal data of those companies' employees, etc.):
    • Companies House and other business-related resources (free and subscription) for UK companies
    • US Securities and Exchange Commission for US companies
    • Capital IQ (subscription) for international companies
    • Company websites
  • Public sources for charities (to find personal data of those charities' employees, trustees, etc., and to find information about donations and support):
    • Charity Commission and other internet sources for UK non-profits
    • GuideStar US for US non-profits
  • Public sources for individuals:
    • Who’s Who and Debrett’s People of Today (subscription)
    • Sunday Times Rich List
    • Other rich lists, including Forbes Magazine’s international rich lists
    • Property websites
    • The King's Honours Lists
    • National change of address services
    • LinkedIn, to check business details
    • Sites providing public domain or licensed images, including Wikimedia Commons and Getty Images
  • Research sources for due-diligence purposes:
    • Factiva (subscription)
    • Nexis Diligence (subscription)
    • Xapien (subscription)

How we use your data

We use your data for a number of interdependent purposes in support of alumni relations, supporter communications and fundraising. These include:

  • sending you publications (e.g. alumni magazines and updates about the University)
  • conducting surveys, including research on when and whether particular donation opportunities or funding appeals may be of interest to you
  • providing services, including access to University and College facilities and alumni email accounts (for example
  • sending you tailored proposals, appeals and requests for donations
  • sending you details of volunteering opportunities
  • inviting you to alumni and other University events
  • the promotion of other opportunities and services available to you (e.g. offers and opportunities available through the University's network of Alumni Groups)
  • wealth analysis and research to improve our understanding of our alumni and supporters, inform our fundraising strategy and target our communications more effectively
  • internal record keeping, including the management of any feedback or complaints
  • administrative purposes (e.g. to process a donation you have made or to administer an event you have registered for or attended)

Before seeking or accepting major donations, we are required to conduct due diligence, including reviewing publicly available personal data relating to the donor's criminal convictions and offences.

We may send communications to you by post, telephone or electronic means (principally by email), depending on the contact details we hold, the consent that you have provided, and the preferences expressed by you about the types of communications you wish to receive.

If you have concerns or queries about any of these purposes or how we communicate with you, please contact us using the details listed below.

We may use automated or manual analyses to link data together to help us identify your potential for supporting the University and Colleges, to provide you with an improved experience, to send you communications which are relevant and timely, to identify volunteering opportunities or opportunities for providing support which may be of interest to you, and to avoid approaching you with opportunities which are not of interest. All of this enables us to raise more funds, sooner and more cost-effectively, in support of the University’s strategic research and teaching objectives. We always seek to ensure that any opportunities we present align with your interests, based on the research we conduct.

We will always respect a request by you to stop processing your personal data, and in addition your statutory rights are set out below.

When we share your data with others (our partners)

We share the above categories of data with the Colleges. We work closely with the Colleges to provide our shared alumni and supporters with a coordinated approach. Colleges have access to our database, and we maintain other electronic and paper records. Any transmission of data to or from the Colleges is managed through agreed processes that comply with relevant data protection legislation. Each College has its own data protection statement and procedures.

We share the above categories of data with Cambridge in America (CAm), which advances the mission of the University of Cambridge and its thirty-one member Colleges by providing expertise in fundraising and alumni relations and by growing the base of support for Collegiate Cambridge among alumni and friends in North America. Data sharing with CAm is managed through agreed processes that comply with relevant data protection legislation.

Additionally, we share data on a considered and confidential basis, where appropriate, with:

  • affiliated organisations and individuals which support and provide services to alumni and supporters, such as:
    • Alumni Groups for which we help manage events that you may attend
    • clubs, societies and independent charities with close connections to the University for which we process your donation or which we believe you may wish to support
    • volunteer partners closely related to us (e.g. development and advisory board members and volunteers supporting events that we organise)
    • educational trusts associated with the University that awarded you a scholarship
  • third parties engaged by the University to provide fundraising related services, such as:
  • selected companies who provide University-branded or University-endorsed products and services
  • wholly-owned companies (e.g. Cambridge Enterprise Limited), if we believe you may be interested in supporting their activities
  • Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP), its partner NHS Foundation Trusts, and associated charities, if we believe you may be interested in supporting clinical or medical research

How we protect your data

We ensure we have appropriate data sharing agreements in place before sharing your personal data.

We do not sell your personal data to third parties under any circumstances.

We also facilitate communication between individual alumni, but in doing so we do not release personal contact details without prior permission.

Any transfers of your data overseas (outside of the UK), for example to Cambridge in America, as set out above, are protected either by ‘adequacy regulations’ issued by the UK Government (declaring the recipient country as a 'safe' territory for personal data) or by relevant standard contractual clauses (which give obligations for the recipient to safeguard the data). Further information about the measures we use to protect data when being transferred internationally is available from our Data Protection Officer (whose contact details are set out below).

Your rights

You have the right to:

  • ask us for access to, or rectification or erasure of your data
  • restrict processing (pending correction or deletion)
  • object to communications or direct marketing
  • ask for the transfer of your data electronically to a third party (data portability)

Many of these rights are qualified in various ways.

You have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office at

Further information

The legal basis for processing your personal data for the interdependent purposes set out above is that it is necessary for the pursuit of our legitimate interests. We always handle your personal data securely and minimise its use, and there is no overriding prejudice to you by using your personal information for these purposes. In addition, there is no statutory or contractual requirement for you to provide us with any personal data.

The controller for your personal data is the University of Cambridge, and we can be contacted at

Our Data Protection Officer is responsible for monitoring compliance with relevant legislation in relation to the protection of personal data and can be contacted at

Please contact us at if you have any concerns or questions about the above information or wish to ask us not to process your personal data for particular purposes. Where you have specific requests relating to how we manage your data, we will endeavour to resolve these, but please note that there may be circumstances where we cannot comply with specific requests.

We will retain your data indefinitely in support of your lifelong relationship with the University or until you request us to do otherwise. We will publish on our website any changes we make to this data protection statement and notify you by other communication channels where appropriate.

Where you exercise your right to erasure, we will continue to maintain a core set of personal data (name, subject(s), matriculation and graduation details, unique University identification number and date of birth) to ensure we do not contact you inadvertently in future and to maintain your academic record for archive purposes. We may also need to retain some financial records about you for statutory purposes (e.g. Gift Aid, anti-fraud and accounting matters).

If you have any concerns about your personal data held by your College, you will need to contact the College separately.

September 2022