Canadian Charities Asked To Contact CRTC By June 18!
(June 14, 2004) June 18 is the deadline for submitting comments to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regarding the impact that its new telemarketing regulations will have on fundraising.
AFP distributed an alert to members last week asking them to send letters to the CRTC and continues to urge all fundraisers in Canada to contact the commission. A sample letter is included below, and members are encouraged to have their colleagues, trustees, board members and volunteers write letters as well.
The new regulations, which take effect June 21, will affect both charities that make their own telemarketing calls in-house and third-party, for-profit telemarketing firms that represent charities. There are no exceptions or exemptions for volunteers, existing or past donors, or individuals with a previous relationship with the charity.
The more onerous provisions would require that:
- The caller (whether a charity or telemarketer) must 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 caller can ask for a particular individual. This number must be staffed during business hours.
- If an individual asks to be placed on a do-not-call list, the caller must immediately act on the request without requiring the individual to do anything further.
- Beginning October 1, a caller 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.
- If an individual requests to be placed on a do-not-call list during a call, then the telemarketer must ask if the individual wants to be placed on ALL of the do-not-call lists of organizations represented by the telemarketer.
AFP will be sending a formal letter to the CRTC on behalf of all its Canadian members asking the commission to change significantly the provisions mentioned above and give charities more time to comply with the new requirements. AFP is also working with other sector organizations.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the proposed regulations or sample letter below.
For more information about the regulations, go the AFP article at /Audiences/PublicPolicyIssueDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=1266
For a complete copy of the CRTC decision and explanation, go to: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Decisions/2004/dt2004-35.htm
(Please fax your letter to the CRTC at (819) 994 - 0218 by June 18.)
Charles Dalfen, Chairman Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2
Dear Chairman Dalfen:
I am writing to express my strong concerns with the recently announced telemarketing rules that will dramatically affect charitable giving to my organization, [ORGANIZATION NAME].
While I understand a need for some level of regulation, these regulations seem to ignore the unique role and characteristics of Canada's charitable sector. As a result, they create additional burdens for charities that will significantly reduce the effectiveness of charity solicitations, and the work these important organizations, such as [INSERT ORG NAME] do in communities across Canada. And, they will do little to enhance public privacy or protection.
First, let me say that I support charities having to disclose who they are, or if using a telemarketer, who the telemarketer is and what charity it is representing. In addition, charities and telemarketers should automatically respect an individual's desire to be placed on a do-not-call list. As one of more than 2,500 members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Canada, I comply with these requirements already through our strong Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice.
However, other aspects of the regulations are unreasonable and are over-burdensome. Requiring a charity to have a toll-free number that is staffed during business hours is extremely onerous and may not be an option, especially for smaller charities. The same is true for the requirement of providing individuals who want to be placed on a do-not-call list with a unique registration number. Many charities simply don't have the resources to set up such a system.
What is especially worrisome from a donor relationship standpoint is having to disclose the required toll-free number before asking for a particular individual or providing any other information. Charities typically have five to 10 seconds at the beginning of a phone call to attract an individual's interest in why they're calling. Under the new regulations, that time will be spent disclosing information about a toll-free number. The average person is not going to respond to that type of phone call. That information should be provided, but having to provide it at the beginning of the call is unreasonable and prevents charities from reaching out to people in an effective and efficient manner. In addition, what about donors who are familiar with a charity? This type of disclosure would be an extremely strange way to begin a conversation with a long-time supporter.
I am also very concerned about telemarketers having to ask an individual if he or she wants to be placed on all of the do-not-call lists of organizations represented by the telemarketer. This requirement will penalize charities that aren't even being represented during a solicitation.
The No. 1 reason people give to charity is because they are asked. This requirement will prevent many charities from contacting potential donors who might be interested in giving once they hear about the organization and its programs. In addition, its very arbitrary nature penalizes those charities that use third-party telemarketers. Charities that make calls in-house won't ever be in jeopardy of individuals being placed on their do-not-call list without getting the chance to talk to them in person.
Finally, the CRTC gave charities almost no time to comply with these new requirements. There are undoubtedly some charities that are still not aware of these changes. There also will be tremendous burdens in training volunteers to comply with these new requirements.
I hope you will consider giving charities additional time to comply with a revised set of regulations that allow the appropriate balance between the charitable organization's need to fundraise and the legitimate right of the public to have requests to be placed on do-not-call list respected.
Telemarketing plays a significant role in the fundraising efforts of [ORGANIZATION NAME]. These new regulations will make it extremely difficult to: [FUND A PROGRAM, REACH OUR GOAL, ETC.] Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.