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AFP to Seek Changes in CRTC Telemarketing Rules

(Sept. 13, 2004) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) will be asking for members' assistance when it submits an application for variance to the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requesting that significant changes be made its new telemarketing regulations.

The new regulations, most of which are already in effect, will have a dramatic impact on telemarketing for charities. AFP expects to submit its application, which will seek to exempt nonprofit organizations from the regulations, this week

In a separate email, AFP will be distributing an affidavit to Canadian members and asking that they sign the form and explain briefly how the regulations will burden their fundraising operations.

'In developing these regulations, the CRTC completely ignored the unique role of the charitable sector in our society and the impact the rules would have on charities,' said Andrea McManus, CFRE, AFP's vice chair of external relations. 'It is critical that we get member input to show explicitly how these regulations will hurt charitable fundraising, and in turn, the programs we provide.'

New Requirements

The regulations that AFP is most concerned about 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.

The new regulations 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.

Seeking a Balance

In its application, AFP will argue that the CRTC has not created a balance between an individual's right to privacy and the need for legitimate charities to raise funds for program that benefit all Canadians. AFP will also point to precedents set with the recent federal privacy bill that distinguishes between commercial activity and charitable fundraising.

'The government has already indicated on several occasions that charitable activity is unique and distinct from commercial operations, but the CRTC seems to have ignored these precedents' said Tad Brown, chair of AFP's Canadian Government Relations Committee.

Once the application for variance has been submitted, consideration by the CRTC could begin as early as late September. AFP has also submitted a letter of support for the Canadian Marketing Association's application for variance.

'Some of their concerns are similar to ours,' said Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP, 'but we felt it was critical that the CRTC also heard from just charitable organizations and fundraisers.'

As soon as the application is submitted, it will be available on the AFP website.

For more information about the CRTC regulations, click here.

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