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Exemption Sought for Do-Not-Call List

(May 23, 2005) In early May, AFP submitted comments to Parliament seeking an exemption for charities from a proposed national Do-Not-Call list, and the House of Commons is considering the recommendation.

The Standing House of Commons Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology ('the committee') is currently considering Bill C-37, which would create a national Do-Not-Call list.

Canadians interested in cutting down on calls from telemarketers would be able to submit their name for the list, and organizations making such calls would have to ensure that those individuals were not contacted.

The original bill did not include any exemptions for any types of organizations, nor was there an exemption for an existing relationship between an individual and an organization. However, recent discussions by the committee point towards an amendment that will exempt charities from the requirements of the legislation.

AFP Comments

In its comments, signed by Tad Brown, finance and development counsel for the University of Toronto, AFP argued that the public perceives phone calls from charities differently than it does calls from for-profit telemarketers:

'The fact is, while the term 'telemarketing' is used to describe all unexpected phone calls from outside organizations, not all telemarketing calls are alike. The purpose of a call, and which organization is making the call, are critical factors in how Canadians perceive each particular phone call.'

According to AFP's State of Fundraising 2004 survey, at least 20 percent of charities use telemarketing phone calls in their fundraising. A majority of these charities receive up to 30 percent of their overall contributions from telemarketing, although some indicated that telemarketing accounts for nearly 70 percent of their fundraising.

It is also estimated that 50 percent of charities use the phone for purposes other than telemarketing: public education, volunteer recruitment and donor cultivation, to name a few. The impact of substantially reducing the number of people charities could contact would be tremendous.

In addition, AFP noted that during consideration of the U.S. Do-Not-Call' list, Congress listened to the concerns of the nonprofit sector and created an exemption for charities.

Next Steps

The committee has moved an amendment that would create an exemption for charitable and political organizations. At this point, the bill is expected to be approved by the committee and sent back to the House of Commons for a third and final reading.

'We're very pleased that the committee has listened to the concerns of the sector and responded appropriately,' Brown said. 'Through AFP's education efforts, Parliament is beginning to understand the importance of the sector to Canada, its people and its economy. We're creating a good partnership, and I appreciate the committee's work and receptiveness to our recommendation.'

While AFP has yet to see any opposition to the exemption amendment, International Headquarters will alert members if action is necessary.

A copy of AFP's comments is available in PDF format in the attachments section below.

If you have questions or concerns about Bill C-37 and the Do-Not-Call list, please contact Michael Nilsen, director, public affairs, at


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