FAQs about Telemarketing & Do Not Call List Rules (DNCL) for Charities

Special thanks to Nancy Webster Cole and Kevin Pickell from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for preparing the following information.

As a registered charity do the National DNCL Rules apply to our organization?

The National DNCL Rules do not apply in respect of a telecommunication made by or on behalf of a registered charity within the meaning of subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act.

If I am using a third party vendor to make the calls on behalf of a registered charity, do they need to abide by and filter our list against the National DNCL as they are not a charity?

No they do not. The National DNCL Rules do not apply in respect of a telecommunication made by or on behalf of a registered charity within the meaning of subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act. In this example, the calls are being made on behalf of the registered charity; therefore, the third party making the calls does not have to filter the list against the National DNCL.

Are there any types of calls that a registered charity could make that would require compliance with the National DNCL?

Yes. If a registered charity makes a telemarketing call that is not exempted from the National DNCL Rules then that organization would be required to adhere to the National DNCL Rules. So if, for example, a registered charity made unsolicited telemarketing calls on behalf of a business and those calls were not exempted from the National DNCL Rules, then the registered charity would be required to adhere to the National DNCL Rules.

If I am exempt from the National DNCL why do I need to pay the fee to fund the Complaints Investigation delegate?

Organizations, such as registered charities, that make unsolicited telecommunications which are exempted from the National DNCL Rules are still considered telemarketers and must adhere to the other Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. These include Telemarketing Rules and Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Rules, such as calling at the appropriate hours and maintaining an internal do not call list. Complaints about a registered charity who is not complying with the other Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules will be investigated.

The CRTC may delegate investigation powers to a third party, referred to as the Complaints Investigator delegate. The delegate may charge rates for exercising its delegated powers.

The Complaints Investigator delegate will investigate complaints relating to all of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, not simply the National DNCL Rules. As such, the investigation costs will be derived from complaints against all telemarketers, not just those who must subscribe to the National DNCL. Accordingly, all telemarketers are required to pay the fee to fund the Complaints Investigator delegate.

Why do some recent publications indicate that charities are not exempt from the National DNCL Rules?

There are two possible answers to this question.

First, telemarketing calls made by or on behalf of charities or non-profit organizations that are not registered within the meaning of subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act are not exempted from the National DNCL Rules.

Second, while telemarketing calls made by or on behalf of a registered charity are exempted from the National DNCL Rules, they are not exempted from the other Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, such as the Telemarketing Rules and the Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Rules. All charities must adhere to the general telemarketing regulations such as permitted calling hours and maintaining an internal do not call list.

Where can I find a copy of the telemarketing regulations?

The most recent version of the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules can be found in the Appendix to Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-6. CMA also offers a Guide to Telemarketing Regulation in Canadawhich addresses the CRTC rules, Competition Act provisions related to telemarketing, rules about registration in the Province of B.C., and the relevant CMA Code of Ethics provisions.

Do the telemarketing rules apply if I am just calling to thank my donors?

The Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules only apply to calls made for the purpose of solicitation. Solicitation means the selling or promoting of a product or service, or the soliciting of money or money’s worth, whether directly or indirectly. Since a call to thank donors would not be considered solicitation, the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules would not apply.

If a violation of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules occurs, is the onus on the registered charity or the organization making the calls?

The onus is on both organizations to comply with the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

If I am a national charity, what additional efforts must be made to ensure my organization is in compliance with the National DNCL Rules in BC & Alberta?

Telemarketers should check with their provincial government (or, if in British Columbia, the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority) to determine what additional efforts must be made to be compliant.

Provincial governing bodies may have more (but not less) stringent regulations than the federal requirements. For example, if you are calling donors in Alberta, both you as the charity and the vendor you are using to make the calls must be registered to operate in Alberta.

Is the legislation different for live voice calls versus voice broadcast messaging or faxes?

Yes. While the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules for live voice calls and faxes are almost identical, faxes have distinct identification rules. The identification on faxes must be at the top of the first page of the font in size 12 or larger and must include a local or toll-free number or address where a consumer may make a do not call request.

Telemarketing voice mail broadcasts are exempted from the Telemarketing Rules (but are not exempted from the National DNCL Rules).

If I subscribe to the National DNCL, the rules stipulate I cannot share the list with other organizations. But can I share it with the agency doing my telemarketing?

Yes, a client can share their version of the National DNCL with a telemarketer that works on their behalf for the purposes of enabling the client to comply with the National DNCL Rules. Alternately, the client can provide their telemarketer, or another third party, with their Registration Access Number, Subscription Access Number, and their Download Key. The telemarketer or third party can then use that information to download their client’s National DNCL file on the client’s behalf for the purposes of enabling the client to comply with the National DNCL Rules.

Where in the legislation does it discuss the new regulation that requires a telemarketer to disclose the purpose of his/her call at the beginning of the conversation with a prospective customer?

Subsection 41.7(3) of the Telecommunications Act requires that any person making a telecommunication exempted from the National DNCL Rules must, at the beginning of the telecommunication, identify the purpose of the telecommunication and the person or organization on whose behalf the telecommunication is made. For the purposes of this Rule, the beginning of the telecommunication is when the intended party is reached.

If a telemarketer calling on behalf of my organization forgets one of the points of identification at the start of the call (name, where calling from…), what can happen to my organization?

A telemarketer’s failure to provide all the points of identification would be a violation of the Telemarketing Rules. As such, the violator would be subject to compliance measures if the consumer reported the violation to the National DNCL operator.

Compliance measures can range from a warning letter requiring the client of the telemarketer and/or the telemarketer to take corrective measures to the imposition of administrative monetary penalties.

A donor requests to be put on an internal do not call list and I capture the phone number on file. Can I call them again if they move and change their phone number?

No, you are not permitted to call the person again. An internal do not call request applies to the name and telephone number of the original request. If the donor moves you are required to make a best effort to comply with that donor’s wish not to be called.

How long do I need to keep a donor on my internal do not call list?

A telemarketer and a client of a telemarketer shall keep a consumer’s name and telecommunications number on their do not call list for a period of three years and thirty-one days from the date of the consumer’s do not call request.

What is the definition of abandon?

“Abandoned Call” means a telecommunication placed by a predictive dialing device to a consumer which, when answered by the consumer, has no live telemarketer available to speak to the consumer within two seconds.

What happens if I accidentally call someone who has requested not to be called and they lodge a complaint?

The complaint would be filed with the National DNCL operator, who would then pass the complaint to the CRTC for investigation. Once an investigation determined that a violation occurred, the CRTC would be able to impose compliance measures on the offending telemarketer.

Compliance measures can range from working with the telemarketer in question to develop proper processes to the imposition of administrative monetary penalties. Compliance measures can range from a warning letter requiring the client of the telemarketer and/or the telemarketer to take put that person’s name and number on the client’s do not call list and to take corrective measures to ensure do not call requests are honoured, to the imposition of administrative monetary penalties.

Is there education being done to the public about the National DNCL and a charity’s exemption from it?

Yes. The CRTC has released press releases that speak to the exemption to the National DNCL Rules for calls made by or on behalf of registered charities. Information on the CRTC website (English, French at explains to both consumers and telemarketers about the exemptions to the National DNCL Rules. We have been working with the Canada Revenue Agency and have provided information they will circulate to registered charities. This includes information about the National DNCL exemptions and the responsibilities registered charities will continue to have with relation to compliance with the other Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

When a consumer registers their telephone number on the National DNCL, they will be informed of the various exemptions to the National DNCL Rules.

If a donor requests that the 3rd party agency not call them again does that mean that I can’t call them directly from the charity as well?

In general, a consumer’s request to not be called again by or on behalf of the organization initiating the call should be respected.

The Telemarketing Rules state that a telemarketer initiating a telemarketing telecommunication on behalf of a client shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the client adds a consumer’s name and telecommunications number to the client’s do not call list within 31 days of the consumer’s do not call request.

Does the display number need to be a local or toll free number?

The display number is only required to be a real telecommunications number where the consumer can reach a responsible person who represents the organization on whose behalf the call is made. There is no requirement as to whether it is a local or toll-free number.

If as a registered charity we are not required to subscribe to the National DNCL can we subscribe to the list and optionally filter or segment our data based on the list?

Yes, any organization is permitted to subscribe to the National DNCL, if they wish. In order to do so, the organization in question would be required to pay the subscription ratesrelated to the subscription desired.

Do we need to provide a call back number at the start of the call?

No. A telemarketer shall provide, upon request, a voice telecommunications number that allows access to an employee or other representative of the telemarketer for the purpose of asking questions, making comments about the telemarketing telecommunication, or making/verifying a do not call request. The number that is provided must be a number the consumer can call at no charge, either a local or a toll-free number.

If a donor calls in and requests to be added to our internal do not call list, how long do we have to comply?

The Telemarketing Rules require that you add a consumer’s name and telecommunications number to your internal do not call list within 31 days of the consumer’s do not call request.

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Tags: Do Not Contact, Telemarketing