Skip to main content

8.0 Telephone

Note: MUST* and MUST NOT* (with asterisk) denotes legal requirement

MUST and MUST NOT (without asterisk) denotes requirement of the Code of Fundraising Practice

The following Legal Appendices MUST be read in conjunction with this section of the Code of Fundraising Practice

8.1 Introduction

This section will cover all fundraising calls that are made to solicit both financial and other forms of donations, such as volunteering time, but will not cover administrative/informative or “thank you” calls (although these standards may be used as guidance for those calls). Fundraising calls will also include any voicemails left to potential donors.

8.2 Preparation and Procedure

8.2.1 Working with Suppliers

a) If the supplier falls within the definition of a professional fundraiser, the supplier MUST* have a written agreement with the organisation.

b) If using external suppliers who do not fall within the definition of a professional fundraiser, an agreement MUSTbe in place.

c) Agreements with professional fundraisers MUST* include details of the payment/expenses the professional fundraiser will receive together with the other matters legally required to be included in agreements with professional fundraisers.

d) Agreements with suppliers who are not professional fundraisers MUST include this information.

8.2.2 Target Audience Exclusion

a) The following categories of potential telephone recipients MUST*be excluded from marketing calls:

– all those who have registered with the Telephone Preference Service, unless they have notified the fundraising organisation they will consent to receiving calls from them (see 8.2.3)

– any individual who has requested for the fundraising organisation to cease or not begin Direct Marketing as outlined in Section 5.7.

b) A recipient MUST NOT* be called using an automated dialling system (i.e. a system that can dial a series of numbers automatically and play a recorded message) unless the recipient has consented to this.

c) Any person known to be under the age of 16 MUST NOT be called.

d) Also, organisations MUST NOT generate telephone fundraising calls by random digit dialling, whether the dialling is manual or by computer.

8.2.3 The Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS)allows individuals or companies to register their telephone numbers to indicate that they do not wish to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls

a) Organisations MUST* always check telephone numbers against TPS/CTPS before making calls

b) Organisations MUST NOT* make direct marketing calls to any number registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), unless the person with the registered number has notified the organisation specifically that they consent to receiving Direct Marketing calls from them for the time being.

c) Marketing calls under the guise of administrative calls MUST NOT* be made.

Calls with an exclusively administrative purpose (for example to confirm bank details or that a payment has been received) are not subject to Direct Marketing rules. However, organisations should ensure that no marketing is included in such communications.

Further guidance on whether a communication constitutes an administrative purpose or a Direct Marketing purpose can be found in the Information Commissioner’s Office’s Direct Marketing guidance and the Fundraising Regulator’s Guide “Personal Information and Fundraising

d) Organisations carrying out live fundraising telephone calls MUST be able to evidence their compliance with legal requirements regarding the Telephone Preference Service.

 Guidance can be found in the Fundraising Regulator’s Quick Guide to TPS Compliance. Consent is required for automated calls, see rule 8.2.2 b

8.2.4 Pre-Call Contact

a) All responses to contact which indicate that the potential recipient of the call does not wish to receive it MUST* be complied with.

8.2.5 Calling from an identifiable number

a) Fundraising agencies MUST make every fundraising call using a telephone number which can be identified by the recipient and to which the recipient can return the call.

Charities, wherever possible, MUST make every fundraising call using a telephone number which can be identified by the recipient and to which the recipient can return the call.

8.3 During the Call

8.3.1 Key Requirements

Section 5: Personal information and Fundraising includes requirements for telephone fundraisers under the General Data Protection Regulation and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The following rules should be read in conjunction with the requirements highlighted in that section.

a)    Organisations MUST* have a written agreement in place requiring subcontractors to comply with relevant data protection law.

b)    Automated telephone calls MUST NOT* be made to individuals without their consent.

c)   Calls MUST NOT be made after 9pm, unless requested by the recipient.

d)    If an individual has previously given a clear indication that they do not wish to receive marketing, they MUST NOT* be contacted (see also Section 5.7 – “Requests to Cease or not begin Direct Marketing”).

e)   Organisations MUST* identify themselves when making a Direct Marketing call.

f)     If the telephone call is first contact with a donor, the caller MUST ask if the recipient is happy to be contacted at that time. If the recipient asks not to be called again, the fundraising organisation MUST* comply with the request.

g)    If asked, organisations MUST* provide a valid business address or free phone telephone number that recipients can use to contact the organisation.

h)  Fundraisers MUST* make appropriate disclosure statements (L10)

i)    If an organisation uses a subcontractor (such as an external telephone fundraiser who falls within the definition of professional fundraiser L8), then the subcontractor MUST inform contacts of the identity of the organisation on whose behalf the calls are being made along with details of the sub-contractor’s remuneration in connection with the appeal.

j)   In England and Wales, the appropriate statement (L10) MUST* be made during each call and a written statement must be sent within seven days of any payment being made by the donor to the professional fundraiser.

k)    In Scotland, information about remuneration given by a professional fundraiser during a call MUST* be available in writing and offered to the donor.

l)    Organisations MUST* avoid persistent misuse of an Electronic Communications Network or Service to contact donors (including making silent or abandoned calls).

Ofcom’s Revised Statement on the Persistent Misuse of an Electronic Communications Network or Service (2016) gives guidance about silent calls and other forms of nuisance call, including what factors it considers in determining whether persistent misuse of an electronic communication network or service has occurred.

The Direct Marketing Association has also provided practical Advice on Persistent Misuse (2017) for contact centres in the light of Ofcom’s statement.

m)  Organisations MUST make clear that the call is seeking financial or other forms of support.

n)   In addition to the rule outlined in section 1.2g, Fundraisers MUST NOT, at any point in a telephone call, be unreasonably persistent or place undue pressure on the recipient to donate, and in particular, MUST NOT ask for a financial contribution more than three times during that call.

o)    If a call recipient asks not to be called again, the fundraising organisation MUST* comply with the request (see also Section 5.7 – “Requests to Cease or not begin Direct Marketing”).

8.3.2 Voicemail

a) If leaving a voicemail, fundraisers MUST make it clear what the purpose of the call is.

8.4 After the Call

8.4.1 Fulfilment of Donations

a) The fundraiser MUST* in certain circumstances write to the donor repeating the disclosure statement and notifying the donor of their right to a refund (L10).

b) Refunds MUST* be given where donors correctly exercise their rights to a refund.

c) If donations are paid to the external telephone fundraiser, they MUST* be paid on to the fundraising organisation as soon as reasonably practicable after receipt and, in any event, no later than 28 days after receipt (unless, in England and Wales, a different time frame has been agreed).

d) Any written information soliciting donations sent by a charity as a result of the call MUST* include a statement that the organisation is a charity (L12).

e) In Scotland this MUST* also contain the full name and charity number (L12).

f) Where donors’ details are stored, fundraisers MUST*ensure compliance with the requirements of data protection law.

Section 5: Personal information and Fundraising includes further information on requirements relating to data protection (L14).

There is more information about telephone fundraising in the Institute of Fundraising’s Telephone Fundraising guidance