Retention of records policy


The law (and best practice) say that we should not hold your personal data for longer than necessary. This policy outlines how we will hold your personal data securely, how long we will hold it and how we will ensure it is securely destroyed at the end of the retention period. This relates to data held within the organisation, and also externally with third party suppliers. The retention schedule (available on request) refers not only to personal data, but also organisational data. In addition, it sets out an individual's right to request erasure of their personal data (the right to be forgotten) and the implications for data retention.

We will only keep your personal information for as long as is necessary for the purpose for which it is collected, which may include legal, accounting or reporting requirements. If you ask us to stop sending marketing materials, we’ll make sure we do. That means we’ll need to keep a record of your contact details and your request.

Retention of your data

To determine how long we keep your data, we look at: 

  • the category of data 
  • the reason we have collected and processed it and whether that reason is ongoing
  • whether you are an active supporter. 

We consider you to be an active supporter if you have opened our mailings and interacted with us in some way, such as communicating with us, being a member, or financially supporting us at any time in the preceding two years.

To determine how long to keep personal data, we consider: 

  • the amount, nature, and sensitivity of the personal data 
  • the potential risk of harm from unauthorised use or disclosure
  • the purposes for which we process your personal data and whether we can achieve these through other means 
  • the applicable legal requirements. 

Length of time we keep your data 

If you cease to become an active supporter, we may continue to send you communications for a limited period of time. This will be no more than three years since your last action for email and SMS (text) communications, and five years for post and phone calls.

We may keep your details for longer for Gift Aid and other legitimate legal and regulatory purposes. For example, for Gift Aided donations, HMRC requires that we keep financial information for seven years after your last donation to us. 

We keep some data indefinitely - for example, your name, address and donation history. A proportion of our legacy income comes from people we weren’t aware would leave us a gift in their Will, and the fact that you were a supporter is important for us to know in case your Will is contested. This can be decades after the last interaction with Macular Society. In these cases, we will only retain data which is necessary for these purposes and will delete or anonymise other parts of your record.

As detailed above, we may hold personal data about individuals who interact with us in other ways.

What happens when we anonymise or delete your data 

When we anonymise or delete your data, we will ensure that it is no longer identifiable to you. We may keep anonymised data for future analysis so that we can understand our supporters better. This may be for research or statistical purposes, or for any other purpose, and we may use this information indefinitely without further notice to you. 

The right to erasure

There may be circumstances in which the data is not retained for the period set out in the retention schedule. For example, data subjects now have the "right to erasure", otherwise known as the "right to be forgotten", which means that they can request the erasure of personal data in certain circumstances, including:

  • where the personal data is no longer necessary for the purposes for which it was collected or processed;
  • where the data subject withdraws consent and the Charity has no other legal ground for processing;
  • where the data subject objects to the processing and there are no overriding legitimate grounds for the processing; or
  • where the personal data has been unlawfully processed.

The Charity can refuse to comply with a request for erasure if the data is being processed for the following reasons:

  • exercising the right of freedom of expression and information (as defined by the Human Rights Act 1998);
  • to comply with a legal obligation or for the performance of a public interest task or exercise of official authority;
  • for public health purposes in the public interest;
  • for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific research, historical research or statistical purposes; or
  • for the exercise or defence of legal claims.

For example, the Charity will continue to hold an individual’s data in relation to a donation that was made during the previous seven
years (even if they request the erasure of this information) because this is a legal requirement.

An audit trail of consent and any requests you make related to the processing of your data is recorded and stored on the Charity’s database, also known as Customer Relationship Manager (CRM).

An individual can request their data is deleted by emailing

Disposal of Data

Once the data has been retained for the periods outlined in our retention schedule, or in the event the Charity is required to comply with a request for erasure, we will ensure that all data is destroyed securely.

For a copy of our retention schedule please email

Approved by: Company Secretary (Cathy Yelf)
Date: 6 August 2020
Review: 6 August 2022