8.0 Telephone

KEY: * denotes legal requirement

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 MUST be 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:

- 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, on a previous occasion, has registered an objection to the use of the telephone for soliciting gifts or support for that particular fundraising organisation;

- and any person who has written to the fundraising organisation to ask it not to use their contact details for marketing purposes or has otherwise asked not to be called.

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 Telephone Preference Service (TPS)/Corporate TPS (CTPS)-registered numbers unless the person who registered the number has notified the organisation that they are happy to receive calls for the time being.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has produced guidance on direct marketing  including the definition of ‘consent’ and the key points for consent to be valid.  

Administrative calls differ from marketing calls in that they are not made with the specific purpose of soliciting a donation/sale, and so are outside of the Regulations.

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

d) Telephone fundraising agencies carrying out fundraising calls on behalf of a charity MUST have an up to date TPS Assured certification or be in the process of applying. 

If you have any questions around this, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.


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

a) Fundraisers MUST* make appropriate disclosure statements.

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

c) Organisations MUST* identify themselves when making a direct marketing call.

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

e) If an organisation uses a subcontractor (such as an external telephone fundraiser who falls within the definition of professional fundraiser), 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.

f) In England and Wales, the appropriate statement 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.

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

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

i) Organisations MUST* avoid making silent calls and do all in their power to ensure donors do not think they are receiving nuisance calls. Ofcom’s Revised Statement on the Persistent Misuse of an Electronic Communications Network or Service gives details about what is considered a silent call and how organisations can lessen the chance of it happening. This includes:

  • limiting abandoned calls to a rate not exceeding 3% of all live calls made on each individual campaign over a 24 hour period; 
  • playing a brief information message giving details about any call answered before an agent is available; 
  • providing call line identification on outbound calls, so that potential donors are able to make a return call; 
  • a 72 hour period before a telephone number receiving an abandoned call may be called again without the guaranteed presence of an agent; and
  • unanswered calls must ring for a minimum of 15 seconds.


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

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

l) Fundraisers MUST NOT, at any point in a telephone call, be unreasonably persistent or place undue pressure on the recipient to donate, and MUST NOT ask for a donation more than three times during that call. 

m) Fundraisers MUST NOT continue a call if, at any point during the call, the recipient gives a clear indication they do not want the call to continue.  

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.

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.

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

f) Where donors’ details are stored, fundraisers MUST* ensure compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.


There is more information about telephone fundraising in the Telephone Fundraising guidance