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Privacy notice

1. Who we are

We are the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). Founded in 1830, we are a learned society, professional body and charity that promotes the advancement of geographical science. With over 16,000 members we are the most active scholarly geographical society internationally.

This privacy notice covers what you need to know about how we collect, use and look after your personal data. The notice also covers your rights and how you can contact us if you have any queries in relation to how we process your information. We strive to meet the highest standards of data protection and won’t do anything you wouldn’t reasonably expect with the data you give us.

This privacy notice only covers how we collect and use your personal data. There may be instances where our website links to other websites which aren’t under our control. Therefore, when following external links it is best to check third party privacy policies to be clear on their collection, processing and use of your information.

2. What information we collect and when we collect it

A) Personal information

We will collect personal information from you when you join the Society, make an event booking with us, fill out one of our forms (for example to apply for a grant or accreditation), make a donation, submit an enquiry about our Collections, submit work to one of our publications or send us any correspondence. If you are a Fellow or Member of the Society, we will also collect personal information when you submit a claim for expenses, make a nomination (for example for the Society’s Medals and Awards or Council elections), or join one of our committees.

Depending on why you provide us with your information, the following may be collected: your name, email address, phone number, postal address, debit or credit card details, and date of birth.

In some circumstances (for example, when joining the Society, or when applying for a grant, accreditation or a job at the Society) we will ask for additional details including qualifications, expertise, work history, or professional affiliations.

When collecting your personal data, we will only ever ask for the information we need for that specific purpose.  

B) IP addresses

When you visit our website ( we collect internet log information. This information helps us to track the number of visitors and their behaviour on our website so we can better understand how our website is being used. This allows us to make our website experience better for everyone.

C) Cookies

Cookies are small text files that allow us to collect the above information. This means that our website will remember you for a particular reason and help to personalise your experience. The information provided to us through this method can include details about your device, the browsing system you use and any issues that may arise including a website crash.

The types of cookies we use include session and persistent cookies. Session cookies are temporary and are only stored until you close your browser or leave our website. Persistent cookies last for a longer period of time and allow our website to recognise you on return visits.

You can turn off cookies through your browser settings at any time if you do not want your browser to accept cookies. You can also delete existing cookies in your browser settings.

From time to time we may embed content from other sites such as Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube. In such cases, where content is embedded or content can be shared on other sites, these third party websites may place cookies within our website. The Society does not have control over the settings of these cookies. Therefore, you should check the relevant third party website for more information on their cookie policy.

Twitter: How Twitter uses cookies

Vimeo: Vimeo’s Cookie Policy

YouTube: Google Privacy Policy

D) Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics to help us get a clear idea of how people use and engage with our website. This information helps us to develop our website further and improve your online experience. Google Analytics uses cookies to collect information about our visitors’ website use, without personally identifying users.

More information can be found at Google Analytics privacy policy.

3. How we use your information

When you provide us with your personal details we will use this information to provide the services you require. This is likely to include servicing your membership with the Society, booking you onto one of our events or courses, and processing a donation, application or nomination or other relevant interactions you might have with the Society.

When you become a Fellow or Member of the Society, we will need to process your personal data in order to provide the benefits of your membership. This will include contacting you with information about your membership and news about Society activities, and sending you Society publications.

If you tell us that you no longer wish to be a Fellow or Member, then you won't hear from us in the future about renewing or reactivating your membership – although we will always be happy to hear from you if you change your mind. However, if your membership lapses without you telling us you want to leave, then we may contact you for up to a year afterwards to inform you how to reactivate your membership.

We may also use your information to provide you with targeted communications from the Society that we think you will be interested in. However, we will ask for your consent before sending you any marketing emails. You can withdraw this consent at any time by unsubscribing through the relevant link located at the bottom of every email communication. If you unsubscribe from our email marketing we will place you on a suspension list so we know not to email you marketing materials in the future.

We may also use and process your information where we have a legitimate business interest to do so. This may include, but is not limited to: providing, modifying and improving our services; enabling our projects; and keeping our website and premises secure. More specifically, for individuals submitting work to and/or serving as a reviewer for one of our publications, we may process your information in order to promote published works, research and find potential reviewers, and commission papers.  

We will also process your information to record the relationship you have with us. This will include Society events you have attended, membership records and communications you have received from us.

We will never keep your information longer than is necessary for the purposes which the information was provided.

4. Sharing your information

We will never exchange, sell or rent your personal information to another person or organisation.

The information you provide is used within the Society to deliver our services to you and we work in collaboration with a few selected external organisations to help us process your data. For example, we work with Opayo to process any payments you make to us and a mailing house to deliver postal materials such as the termly Bulletin.

We use Mailchimp to distribute our email communications to you including monthly member news, forthcoming Society events and other information about our work. We monitor statistics from our mailings such as the number of opens and link clicks in each email to help us improve our communication with you. To find out more about what information Mailchimp collects take a look at their privacy policy.

When you submit an application for a grant, scholarship or accreditation, your application will be shared with reviewers to help us reach a decision. If successful in your application, your name and a short biography may be made publicly available through our website to recognise your achievement. Similarly, if you enter one of our competitions or receive a medal or award, your details may be made public.

All third parties we work with to help us process your information work in line with our expectations and have agreements with us that include details of how they keep your data secure. This includes not exchanging, selling or renting your personal information.

5. Keeping your information secure

We have measures in place to make sure that your personal data is secure at all times. When you make an online payment for membership or an event booking, you enter a secure internet site and put your details directly into our payment provider’s secure web page.  We use SagePay as our payment gateway, you can find out more about their security policy here.

If any of your information is transferred out of the European Economic Area by us or our service providers, we ensure it is done so with the relevant protection required by law.

Card details for offline payments (over the phone, via email or via post) are stored securely and only accessible by authorised staff.

If you are a Fellow or Member, or have registered an account with the website, it is your responsibility to keep your login details to our website safe. 

6. Attending our events

At our events we may have photography and videography taking place. This material may be used for future marketing and other communications from the Society. Where possible we will ask your permission to take your photograph; if you do not wish to be photographed or filmed, please let a member of staff know.

Free Wi-Fi is available throughout Lowther Lodge and you do not have to complete any forms to use it. However, we do collect information on the number and types of devices accessing the Wi-Fi, the types of sites being accessed and the amount of data being used. This information is solely used to monitor the amount of data being used and is not shared with third parties. We are unable to identify individuals from this data.

7. Development and fundraising

We receive no core government funding, and rely on donations from a range of sources to support our activities as a registered charity.

To help us better understand our existing and potential donors, what they would like to receive and their preferred method of communication, we use a variety of research techniques. We use these to build up a profile of interests and to personalise communications (for example tailored event invitations or newsletters) so we can offer engaging content that is of relevance and inspiring to individuals. We also want to reduce the risk of anyone receiving information that is not relevant and ensure that we can be cost effective and efficient with our resources while maximising impact.

We may use existing information from our contacts database that you have provided (such as previous event attendance history, address, and previous donations to the Society) and combine this with information from publicly available sources such as Companies House, Charity Commission, professional biographies, articles in newspapers and magazines and social media profiles.  We do not use data that we believe has not been lawfully or ethically sourced, or sources which have not been broadcast or made public. We do not use wealth screening companies to analyse our data.

We may also use existing information we have on you to contact you with ways to support the Society including invitations to donor events, our friends scheme, legacy programme, appeals and campaigns. If you would prefer that we did not use your data in this way, please contact us using the details below.

Read our full fundraising privacy notice

8. Under 18s

There are times when we collect data from under 18s, including applications for Student Membership, attendance at School Member events and as part of the administration of competitions and awards.

The personal information that we collect in these circumstances is held securely and only used in relation to the purpose for which it was collected.

Parental consent is required for all under 18s applying for residential summer school places. Consent from parents/guardians is also requested from competition and award winners before personal information is used in our information and marketing communications. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.

9. Your rights

Under the General Data Protection Regulation, there are several rights you hold in relation to the processing of your data.

  • You have the right to request a copy of the information we hold about you. We will require two forms of identification from you before releasing this information. We will provide the information within one month of the receipt of your request. An administrative fee may apply.

  • You have the right to have your data erased from our databases in certain circumstances. These include when your personal data is no longer necessary for the purpose it was originally collected and when you withdraw your consent for us to process your data for certain purposes.

  • You have the right to object to your data being processed under legitimate interests, upon which the processing will cease, unless there are compelling legitimate grounds such as fulfilling a contract between us.

If your contact details change, help us to keep our records up to date by contacting us using the details below.

If you no longer wish to receive marketing or information emails from us you can unsubscribe at any time using the relevant link at the bottom of every email communication or contacting us using the details below.

10. Changes to this privacy policy

We may update this policy from time to time. If we make any significant changes we will inform you via our website or email, if your details are registered with us. By continuing to use our services, we will recognise this as acceptance of these terms. 

11. Contact us

At the Society, we strive to uphold the best standards of practice in collecting and using any personal data. Therefore, we take complaints very seriously and advise anyone to contact us if they believe our system of collecting and processing data is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. Any suggestions for improving our policy are always welcome.

You can contact the Society at:
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR
T: 020 7591 3000

If you have any concerns or questions you would like answering in relation to this policy, you can contact Caitlin Watson, Head of Communications and Public Engagement on

This policy was last updated on 31 March 2023.