FIA Submission on “Do-Not-Call” Standards
Monday, 12th February 2007 at 4:03 pm
The Fundraising Institute – Australia (FIA) has raised charity concerns in its submission to the Federal Government’s draft industry Standard for the new Do-Not-Call legislation.
The legislation was passed in 2006, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) releasing a draft industry Standard to establish a minimum set of requirements for telemarketing and research calls.
Under the Do Not Call Register Act, charities and charitable organisations are exempt from the Do-Not-Call Register along with religious organisations and government bodies.
The draft Standard sets minimum standards in four main areas:
– restricting the calling hours/days for making telemarketing and research calls
– requiring provision of specific information about the caller
– providing for the termination of calls, and
– requiring callers to enable calling line identification.
The FIA says it has supported the legislation with the proviso that charitable organisations are allowed to make’designated telemarketing calls’.
In the FIA submission, CEO Sue Anne Wallace raises a number of issues in the draft standard that will impact on the Not for Profit sector.
The submission says that some of the provisions in the standard seem to be drafted from the perspective of cold calling which is not a common approach for charitable telemarketing.
It points out that one major charity which does do cold calling and therefore impacts on these statistics does so to recruit volunteers – donations of time rather than cash – for its door knock appeal.
In the submission the FIA says there are a few general comments which it believes can be readily addressed without affecting the spirit of the standard.
– Inconsistent or ambiguous interpretations and definitions;
– Removal of two calling schedules (commercial/charitable telemarketing and research telemarketing; and
– Removing inconsistency with state and territory laws and the Federal Standard.
Sue-Anne Wallace says this last issue in particular has the potential to impact on charitable fundraising by increasing the costs of fundraising, i.e the administrative effort to comply with the Standard and state or territory law.
She says the costs of fundraising are regulated through state and territory laws and if certain thresholds are exceeded the penalties are very severe, at worst being deregistration.
The submission says inconsistencies between draft Federal and existing State legislation in relation to prohibited calling times will cause public confusion and add to the costs of fundraising because of the additional administrative load in determining compliance.
Under the draft Standard, a caller must not make or attempt to make:
– a telemarketing call on a weekday before 9 am or after 8 pm
– a research call on a weekday before 9 am or after 8.30 pm
– a telemarketing or research call on a Saturday before 9 am or after 5 pm
– a telemarketing or research call on a Sunday or a public holiday.
The submission calls on the Federal Government to take the initiative in bringing harmonisation into the legislation by ensuring that such legislative inconsistencies are not perpetuated in the draft Standard.
The submission points to the terminology such as ‘call, caller and call recipient’ as ambiguous or not appropriate to charitable telemarketing, which may be to solicit funds, thank donors, seek volunteers, provide information or public education on a cause or charitable endeavour.
In relation to the provision of information during a call, the FIA says there are a number of issues that need to be addressed including the potential security risk for charities running a small telemarketing office if information on name and street address is required. Also the level of information required on ‘caller’ and ’employer’ is ambiguous.
Also the submission says that while there is provision made in the draft Standard for numbers other than the calling line to be identified, there appears no provision for smaller charities that may not have the capability to enable calling line identification or for those charities that use other technologies such as web-based.
ACMA’s Do-Not-Call Taskforce says some 30 submissions have received on the draft Standard. The closing date was January 2007.
The Taskforce expects the Standard to be in place well before May 2007 when the Do-Not-Call Register begins to allow organisations to make changes to their systems.