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Canada Issues -- May 2004 Public Policy Update

Federal Elections

The June 28 federal election will cause some short delays for various public policy initiatives related to philanthropy, but it will also allow AFP to prepare a significant education campaign aimed at members of Parliament.

Prime Minister Paul Martin's call for a new election on June 28 has slowed a few efforts by the federal government, such as the Senate Banking Committee's hearing on new ways to encourage additional charitable giving. AFP was to participate in the hearings in March, but that session, and the committee's final report on charity in Canada, will have to wait until the fall.

But according to Tad Brown, Finance and Development Counsel for the University of Toronto and chair of AFP's Canadian Government Relations Committee, the delay wil not have much of an effect on most initiatives.

"We are really excited about the work and momentum that has been building in the public policy arena regarding charities over the past six months, and this short election period is not going to blunt that," said Brown. "At the same time, the election allows AFP to better craft its advocacy message and prepare our chapters for our education campaign that will occur after the election."

The Canadian Government Relations Committee is developing a government relations and advocacy manual that will distributed to chapters shortly. AFP will be setting up a campaign after the election to encourage chapters to visit members of Parliament and educate them about philanthropy, fundraising and AFP.

"We have a great opportunity to get our message out, especially with new members of Parliament," Brown said. "It is a chance to showcase AFP and the fundraising profession and show the positive side of what we do. We going to be strongly urging chapters to get involved -- it will be a great thing to do for the profession."

For Government Relations Chairs: You can email for more information about the upcoming education campaign. Chairs will be receiving a government relations manual and additional materials later in the summer.

Telemarketing Rules

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued new regulations that impose additional requirements and disclosures for charities engaged in telemarketing, as well as for those for-profit organizations working on behalf of a charity.

The following new rules now apply to charities and to for-profit telemarketers working on behalf of a charity:

  • The telemarketer must immediately identify him/herself and the organization (charity) on whose behalf the call is being made. This disclosure must come before the telemarketer can ask for a particular individual.
  • The telemarketer must also provide a toll-free telephone number that an individual can use to provide questions and comments about the call. This disclosure must also come before the telemarketer can ask for a particular individual. This number must be staffed during business hours.
  • If an individual, during the call, asks to be placed on a do-not-call list, the telemarketer must immediately act on the request without requiring the individual to do anything further.
  • Beginning October 1, a telemarketer must provide to an individual who wants to be placed on a do-not-call list a unique registration number to confirm receipt of each do-not-call request.

There are two additional rules for for-profit telemarketers calling on behalf of a charity:

  • The telemarketer must immediately identify the name of the for-profit company representing the charity.
  • If an individual requests to be placed on a do-not-call list during a call, then the telemarketing must ask if the individual wants to be placed on all the do-not-call lists of organizations represented by the telemarketer.

Once a request is made, charities have 30 days to process the request and place the individual on their do-not-call list. Individuals on an organization-specific do-not-call list cannot be contacted for three years, starting with the day their request was processed.

While fax telemarketing is not used often by charities, fundraisers should be aware that the new rules do affect fax communications as well. The requirements are similar to those for phone calls, but does include some other limitations:

  • The fax must identify who is sending the fax (both the individual person and organization) and include information about a toll-free telephone number and toll-free fax number where do-not-call/fax requests can be processed. A name and address must also be included for individuals to write.
  • The originating date and time of the fax must also be provided.
  • All of the above information must be in font size 12 point or larger at the top of the first page of any fax.
  • Do-not-call/fax requests must be processed with 7 days, and individuals on the list cannot be contacted for three years.

The new rules are scheduled to go into effect on June 21, 2004.

While AFP agrees with some of the new requirements, such as identification of the organization calling, the requirements for a fully-staffed, toll-free phone number and unique registration number are extremely burdensome, especially for smaller organizations. Requiring the disclosure of that information at the beginning of any call will also decrease dramatically the effectiveness of charity telemarketing calls. The limited amount of time to comply with the new requirements is also very troubling.

AFP will be in contact with the CRTC and other federal agencies (such as Industry Canada) and also plans to work with other fundraising and telemarketing organizations to seek improvements in the regulations.

For Government Relations Chairs: The new telemarketing rules are extremely burdensome, especially for smaller charities. AFP is developing a strategy and reaching out to other sector organizations. Chairs should expect to see a legislative alert from AFP in the near future (although the upcoming election may affect the timing) with additional information, including a sample letter.

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