Redacting Personal Data Identifiers for Equivalency Determination

Last updated: June 2018

New data privacy guidelines limit our ability to share personally identifiable information among our network of grantmakers, partners, and NGOs. As a precautionary matter, we request that you remove any personally identifiable information in any document you email or upload in the online questionnaire. Examples of personally identifiable information include, but are not limited to, references to individuals, whether by name, signature, photograph, identity number, or otherwise.

Therefore, before ANY documents are uploaded or emailed, please review and, before scanning or uploading them, completely redact or black out all of the following:

  • Individual names of directors, officers, trustees, incorporators, promoters, or any other person, whether the name is in typed, handwritten, or signature format (manual or digital)
  • Photographs of individuals
  • Phone numbers, addresses, identification numbers (such as passport, tax numbers, drivers licenses), emails, or fax numbers
  • Any other reference to an individual, individual contact information, or personal history or identification

At this time, the information entered directly into the questionnaire will be maintained separately and securely, and it does not need to be redacted. The exception is the name of any individual donor (person not entity) provided in the financial section of the questionnaire. Individual "major donors" should be listed as "Anonymous Donor 1," "Anonymous Donor 2," or something similar.

To ensure compliance, NGOsource offers the following tips on how to redact personally identifiable information.

Manually Redact a Document

If it is challenging for your organization to use software to redact information, we recommend removing the information manually.

  1. Print the document — do not print as double-sided.
  2. Review the document carefully and mark through any personally identifiable information with a black marker. Try to refrain from using a pen as it may not cover all of the information.
  3. Once the information has been blacked out, scan and save the document using a name that identifies the document as the redacted version. (Example: YOUR ORG NAME_DOCUMENT TITLE_Redacted)

Redacting a PDF File

Adobe Acrobat Pro (Version 8 and newer) is the only software that can be used to permanently redact information in a PDF file. Note: Your version of Acrobat might work differently from what is described here.

  1. Open the PDF file you need to redact.
  2. On the Tools tab, click Redact in the Protect & Standardize section.
  3. Click Mark for Redaction in the toolbar and select which items you want to mark for redaction:
    • Text & Images (to remove words or images
    • Pages (to remove individual pages)
    • Find Text (to locate certain words or phrases)
  4. Mark items you want to redact by doing any of the following:
    • Double-click to select a word or image.
    • Highlight to select a line of text or image.
    • Press Ctrl as you drag to select an area.
  5. Click Apply in the toolbar.
  6. Click OK to apply the redactions.
    The items will not be removed from the document until it has been saved.
    A dialog box asks if you want to remove hidden information. This information includes the author, hidden links, and the like.
  7. Click Yes.
    A sidebar shows the results of Acrobat's search.
  8. Click Remove in the sidebar and then click OK.
  9. Save the file. Acrobat adds "Redacted" to the file name. If for some reason it isn't added, we recommend adding it.

Once the document is saved, the redacted information is permanently deleted.

Redacting a Word-Processing File (for Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, WordStar, etc.)

If you don't use Acrobat, you can redact personally identifiable information by inserting a box over the text and images that need to be redacted. These instructions are for Microsoft Word.

  1. Open the Word file you need to redact.
  2. Choose Insert > Shapes.
  3. Select a square or rectangle.
  4. Drag the cursor over the items you want to remove.
  5. To change your default color to black, click on the shape and select black from the Shape Fill list in the Drawing Tools Format tab.

Instead of inserting a box over the information, you can simply delete the text in the Word document. However, please be aware that you will need to mark the removed text as having been redacted. We recommend that you use the phrase "INFO REDACTED" in place of the redacted information. For this, simply select the text or image and type “INFO REDACTED.”

After the information has been redacted, you can save and rename the document using a name that identifies the document as the redacted version. Make sure to save the document as a PDF. (Example: YOUR ORG NAME_DOCUMENT TITLE_Redacted)

Redacting a Scanned File (TIFF, JPEG, PNG, etc.)

Removing information using an image editor program may be challenging. Therefore, we recommend that before you attempt to redact items in any editor program, you try to save the image or scanned file as a PDF and follow the instructions above in "Redacting a PDF File." You can also print the document and redact the information manually.

  1. Open the scanned file in an image editor program such as Microsoft Paint, Photo Editor, or GIMP. 
  2. Select a square or rectangle from the toolbar.
  3. Drag the cursor over the items you want to remove.
  4. Change the color to black as allowed by the program you are using. Typically the color selections are in the toolbar.
  5. Save and rename the document using a name that identifies the document as the redacted version. (Example: YOUR ORG NAME_IMAGE TITLE_Redacted)