Telemarketing Fund Raising Campaigns - When contracting a fund raiser via telemarketing, ask what procedures are in place to make sure that the telemarketer complies with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Telemarketing Sales Rule. The Rule applies to telemarketers hired to conduct inter-state solicitations of charitable contributions by phone.
Fund-raisers and any subcontractors must comply with the following requirements:
- telemarketing calls can be made only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.;
- telemarketers must promptly identify the charitable organization they represent and disclose that the purpose of the call is to ask for a contribution;
- telemarketers must not make misleading statements during their pitch to induce a donation; and
- if a person asks to be placed on a "do not call" list, the telemarketer must honor the request. Any further calls to that person may subject the telemarketer to a fine of up to $11,000.
Many states also have regulations regarding charitable solicitations. Ask whether the telemarketer understands these requirements and how they plan to follow them. Include a statement about adhering to state regulations and federal law in your written contract. In addition, make sure that the materials used by the fund-raiser comply with any state "do not call" law. Some states require paid fund-raisers to identify themselves as such and to name the charity for which they are soliciting, even if the call is in-state. Also, ask whether the company is licensed or bonded - a requirement in many states. To learn about the law in the states where the telemarketer will be calling, contact the state's charity regulator. Links to state charity regulators can be found at the National Association of State Charity Officials Web site - www.nasconet.org.
Ask for references and contact them about their experiences with the company, and whether they have suggestions based on their experience. Check out the company with state and local consumer protection officials, charities regulators and the Better Business Bureau. These organizations can tell you whether they have received consumer complaints about the company. But be wary: the absence of complaints doesn't necessarily mean the company is legitimate. Unscrupulous companies may settle complaints, change their names or move to avoid detection.
Finally, get bids. A reasonable bid is determined by considering many factors: the time and type of labor involved, the nature and duration of the relationship between fund raiser and client, and the ability and experience of the fund-raising firm. Further, some state laws require nonprofit managers to get competitive bids.