Saturday, December 15, 2007

This call is being recorded for quality.

Call center technology is constantly improving. Most modern call-centers record at least some portion of the conversations they initiate. Who listens to these recordings. And what eventually happens to them?

What does this mean for charitable solicitations?

A typical call for me starts something like this;

Me: Hello I'm Henry calling from XXX organization on behalf of the Save the Giant Sequoia Tree foundation. Hows it going today Mr X?

Mr X: Fine, how are you today?

Me; I'm good thanks for asking, not a lot of people do. (this gets a chuckle as often as not, and its true.)

Me: Mr X, I'm going to try to keep things quick today but first I do need to know that this call could be monitored and is recorded for my quality.

Mr X: Ah go ahead the damn government is recording everything we say anyway....

Conversations can go into anywhere from a mild rant against the Bush administration to an all out call for violence made in jest, typical stuff you might hear on The Bill Mahr show. But what the Donor may not realize is that that conversation doesn't necessarily go away, ever.

Ive done fundraising for organizations like the Democratic National Committee, The A.C.L.U and the Human Rights Campaign. At the start of each call we inform donors that their call could be recorded to ensure quality control.

A.C.L.U donors are the most likely to hang up the phone at that point caring too much about their right to privacy to allow themselves to be recorded.

But what about the callers who don't hang up? Ive spoken to extremely opinionated people who
have pulled no punches when it come to their opinion on the current presidential administration, the war on terror, and other highly charged issued.

Politicians have been cursed threats have been made as well as off color jokes.

Could this information be used against a person?

With the warrant-less wiretapping that we know is going on in this country,how smart is it for organizations to save recordings of people?

Donors tend to say anything to an anonymous fundraiser on over the phone. But is it really anonymous. Do the donors have a right to know what becomes of their voice recordings.

I think that call-centers, especially in the fundraising industry, should have a published policy on what they will and will not do with Donor's information, including voice recordings.

Technology and political realities have raced beyond past practices. Its time for call-centers to catch up.

What I can tell you as a professional fundraiser is that.

  • You have the right to end the conversation at any time, although I and your organization wish you wouldn't.
  • You have the right to request more information about where I'm calling from and what my particular call-center will do with any of your information, including recordings of your voice. ( If your the curious type this might be fun to do anyway)
  • The Front-line people who call you, me, have no control over when or why you are called; its all done by computer.
  • The national no call-list has little bearing on non-profits, or their agents, (me). Call-centers that do fundraising have their own internal do-not-call lists; ask to be on it and we are obligated to put you on it. You should also let your charities know, by phone, or in writing, that you don't want to be called, or to have your name sold or traded to other organizations.
  • Reputable fundraisers charge a flat fee per call. Yes or no, we get the same amount for making the call. It doesn't have to be this way however, Some fundraising agents can keep 80% (or more!) of the revenue a solicitation campaign generates. You have the right to know just what those percentages are; if the person you are speaking to doesn't know, ask for a supervisor.
  • Some states also have laws that obligate fundraising groups to send a written copy of this information to any donor that asks, you'll need to contact your attorney general's office to see if your state is one.
  • Last note; Federal law prohibits us from recording your credit card information, this is the one part of the call that isn't recorded.

I hope this quick rundown of the issues stirs some discussion. Ill follow up with more on telephone fundraising in the coming days.

No comments: