Data Protection Policy: GDPR-ready template for membership organisations

Written by Andy Pearson

template data protection policy text with data security icon on red background

The Data Protection Policy is an internal statement of how your organisation protects the personal data it processes. Under current legislation on data protection, almost all membership organisations should have a Data Protection Policy and this should be regularly reviewed. You can read more about your general obligations in our GDPR guide for associations, societies and membership organisations

This post explains what you need to cover in your Data Protection Policy and provides a free model policy for you to download and use. This post comes with the important caveat that we are not lawyers! We provide free support and guidance to our community of membership organisations and while these resources should save you a lot of time, it’s prudent to get a lawyer to check them over too. 

What is a Data Protection Policy and why do I need one?

A good policy makes it clear how your organisation plans to go about dealing with a certain issue. In this case, the issue is data and the policy should make it clear how your organisation will deal with data so that it complies with the legal requirements contained in the GDPR. 

The legislation set out in the GDPR is principle-based rather than rule-based. This provides organisations with a large amount of flexibility in how they comply. The purpose of your data protection policy is to explain how you comply with these principles. 

Having a Data Protection Policy is a legal requirement under the Data Protection Act 2018.

What should I include in the Data Protection Policy?

This post and the template Data Protection Policy take their basic structure from the principles contained in the GDPR, as implemented in the Data Protection Act 2018. This section provides a summary of these principles.

General provisions


GDPR introduces the concept of a Data Protection Officer, which is an official role with certain legal responsibilities attached to it. Small organisations are unlikely to need a Data Protection Officer but their Data Protection Policy should specify who in the organisation is responsible for data protection.


The policy should state how regularly it is reviewed and should note the date of the latest review. 

Data definition

What data is covered by the policy?

Breach reporting

What will happen if there is a breach?

Lawful, fair and transparent processing

Data audit

What data are you storing and where? How often, in what format? The policy should explain how you as an organisation will keep tabs on all the data you store. This may be listed in the policy or in a supporting document.


What to do if an individual asks to see their data.

Purpose limitations

All data collected must be justified on the basis of one of the lawful purposes. This may be listed in the policy or in a supporting document. Where consent is relied upon, how is this tracked and what is the process of it being revoked. 

Data minimisation

How will you ensure that you are collecting the minimum amount of data for your lawful purposes? 


How will you review data periodically or otherwise ensure accuracy? 

Storage limitations

What will you retain, for how long and why? What will you remove and how often / when will you do this? 

Integrity and confidentiality

What measures are in place to protect data that is held within the organisation’s systems. Do you take back-ups? If so how often and how long do you keep them for? 

What is the difference between a Data Protection Policy and a Privacy Policy?

A Data Protection Policy (sometimes also referred to as a ‘data protection statement’) is primarily an internal document to help you as an organisation ensure you comply with data protection legislation. Under the GDPR data protection legislation, there is also a requirement to provide privacy notices to individuals when processing their personal data. You can read more about public privacy notices and privacy policies on our privacy policy template post

Download the template

We’ve created a free template to accompany this guide. If you find this useful please consider sharing this page!

Download the Data Protection Policy template

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