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U.S. Do-Not-Call List Now Permanent

(Feb. 28, 2005) Phone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) national Do-Not-Call List will remain there permanently unless voluntarily removed under a bill signed into law recently by President Bush.

On Feb. 15, the president signed both the Do Not Call Improvement Act of 2007 and the Do Not Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007.

The first bill prohibits the automatic removal of telephone numbers registered on the do-not-call list. The original policy was that phone numbers would be left on the list for five years and then drop off unless individuals request that their numbers be reinstated. The FTC recently changed its stance and wanted to keep numbers permanently on the list, and this bill enacts that change into law.

The second bill extends permanently the authority of the FTC to charge fees to telemarketers to access the list so they will not call numbers on the list.

AFP successfully fought for an exemption for charitable organizations and their third-party fundraisers from the do-not-call list. However, nonprofits and third-party fundraisers must still comply with individuals’ requests to have their names removed from a nonprofit’s call list, as well as other requirements (see below). Political and survey organizations are also exempt, while companies with an established business relationship with an individual may call for up to 18 months after the last payment or delivery.

Telemarketing Regulations

While charities and their representatives are exempt from the do-not-call list, they are still subject to certain requirements of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (the rule is the larger regulation that includes the do-not-call list). These obligations include:

  • Disclosing the name of the organization on whose behalf the call and request is being made
  • Disclosing that the purpose of the call is a charitable solicitation
  • Prohibiting misrepresentations of what the charity does, how the contribution will be used and how much money is spent on programs and costs (among other disclosures)
  • Honoring entity-specific “do-not-call” requests, such as when individuals ask that a particular charity not contact them.

As these requirements closely mirror the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards, the association supported these provisions.

More information about the Telemarketing Sales Rule can be found on the FTC website.

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