AFP Participates in FTC Discussion on 'Do Not Call' List
(June 6, 2002) WASHINGTON (AFP eWire) - As part of a three-day forum before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Congressional aides and other interested parties, representatives of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) argued this week that the FTC's proposed national "do not call" list should not apply to for-profit telemarketers calling on behalf of charities.
Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president & CEO of AFP, and Michael J. Rosen, CFRE, vice president of government relations for the AFP Greater Philadelphia Chapter and member of the U.S. government relations committee, spoke during separate panels about the difficulties and constitutional questions that will arise in implementing the "do not call" system.
As part of its review of the Telemarketing Sales Rule covering telemarketers and the sale of goods and services, the FTC has proposed to create a national "do not call" list. Individuals from across the United States could contact the FTC to have their names appear on this list. At certain times throughout the year, telemarketers would have to acquire the list to ensure they are not contacting people who indicated they did not want to be called.
The Telemarketing Sales Rule did not apply to charities until the passage last year of the USA Patriot Act (the anti-terrorism bill), which extended coverage of the Rule to third-party telemarketers fundraising on behalf of charities. Thus, the FTC now has jurisdiction over charitable fundraising performed by for-profit telemarketers, but not over charities themselves.
Both Maehara and Rosen pointed out the inconsistencies and difficulties in applying such a system to third-party telemarketers, but not to charities.
"The message is the same regardless of who makes the call," stated Rosen. "This proposal creates an uneven playing field, favoring those charities who have the staff and resources to perform their fundraising activities in-house."
Rosen went on to note that that the Supreme Court has always accorded charitable fundraising as a special type of protected speech and that the language of the "do not call" proposal might not pass constitutional muster.
The Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Patriot Act also impact charities and fundraisers in other ways. Under the Rule, telemarketers fundraising on behalf of charities would be required to immediately disclose the identity of the charitable organization they are raising funds for, and that the purpose of the call is to solicit a charitable contribution.
In addition, telemarketers could not misrepresent or mislead donors or potential donors regarding any of the following items:
- The nature, purpose, or mission of any entity on behalf of which a charitable contribution is being requested;
- That any charitable contribution is tax deductible in whole or in part;
- The purpose for which any charitable contribution will be used;
- The percentage or amount of any charitable contribution that will go to a charitable organization or to any particular charitable program after any administrative or fundraising expenses are deducted;
- Any material aspect of a prize promotion including, but not limited to: the odds of being able to receive a prize; the nature or value of a prize; or that a charitable contribution is required to win a prize or to participate in a prize promotion;
- In connection with the sale of advertising, the purpose for which the proceeds from the sale of advertising will be used; that a purchase of advertising has been authorized or approved by any donor; that any donor owes payment for advertising; or the geographic area in which the advertising will be distributed;
- A seller's or telemarketer's affiliation with, or endorsement or sponsorship by, any person or government.
In her remarks, Maehara noted that AFP agreed with these mandates, and that they are in accord with AFP's own Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practices. However, she also said that additional required disclosures, such as the mailing address of the charity, were unnecessary and could have a detrimental effect upon the success of the solicitation call. Maehara said that such information should be disclosed upon request, as AFP's Code requires, but that disclosing too much information would make the call too long and dilute the message of the charity.
The three-day forum in Washington, D.C., was an opportunity for the FTC to hear a variety of perspectives about the "do not call" list and other aspects of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. There is no set timeline for the proposals, and the FTC may well promulgate another draft proposal to receive additional comments and feedback.