Telemarketers and Charitable Organizations


The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR)—up until now, I had no idea that this rule existed. The reason I discovered this fantastic rule was because my colleague, Joe Ecuyer, informed me of its existence and of his adventures using it with telefunders (telemarketers who solicit contributions on behalf of charities). Every time he receives a phone call from a telefunder, he asks them what percentage of his potential contribution will reach the hands of the charitable organization that they are soliciting for—the most recent telefunder answered a whopping 5%.

The TSR does not require a telefunder to disclose the percentage or amount of the contribution that goes to a charitable organization, but if a potential donor does raise the question, then the telefunder must answer truthfully. 

Now that the holiday season is upon us, and our wallets are feeling a little more charitable than usual, it is likely that telefunder calls will increase. Like Joe, I received such a call the other night, and was informed, after inquiring, that 10% of my potential contribution would go to the charitable organization that the telefudner was representing—I hung up the phone.

The best thing one can do to see that their money goes as far as possible with a charitable organization, is research. And the amazing thing about the internet is that there are several non-profit websites that do the research for us. Laura Peebles, a Senior Fellow at Bloomberg BNA, pointed me in the right direction with several examples of wonderful non-profit websites that provide the necessary information to help us make informed decisions: Charity Navigator, Catalogue for Philanthropy, United Way, and GuideStar. So if you’re feeling extra charitable this year, do your research and donate to wonderful causes, while leaving the greedy middleman out of the picture.

Don’t let telefunders steal your holiday gifts, leave that up to the Grinch.

Happy Holidays!

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