The principle of ‘opt in’ in a civil society

Hand made earth toy on hands

We have already opted in to charity. Its called a civil society. It our starting place that we need to assert and fight for.

If we want a thriving sector – and we all do, we need to confront the dangerous interpretation that some seem to be creating. There is serious unintended consequence. Here’s some principles we would be well advised to adopt and organise around. There are three levels we need to get clarity on and fight for:

  • Opt in is already in place – a civil society in a democratic state with thousands of years of history and a rich heritage of charity in a free society with collective norms and accepted behaviours doesn’t need a default position that says we start by being outside that. Change this at your peril. Invent nonsense for one sector and not others and see where it leads. We are all in – that’s how the greater good works balanced with individual liberty
  • Consent – In that opted in world (our society to our citizens), we can only operate with consent. That comes from 2 places. Collective consent from the public and institutions, and consent as an individual. You need my permission. I give it freely, I need to make it clear and you need to respect my consent. My consent is with you – I don’t need to give my DNA and run it up a flagpole ….once I contribute I recognise you will want to build a relationship with me but I always have choice and I know you behave in a way that shows that. Giving my details to someone else does involve my DNA, a flagpole and a loud yes or no.
  • Opt out – If I choose (in a free society) to say I don’t want any more from you, I can opt out. You will make it easy for me and I won’t feel resentful. Opt out works if we are open and transparent and bring together codes and existing structures and use them. We behave in a way that respects and we have systems to support it. If anyone doesn’t they should be punished.

Three principled layers. Meanwhile, we are worrying about small details and what ifs, rather than organise around principle and the right thing. We need to stand up and push back. Nicely of course…

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