By James D’Ambrosio

(This is the final article in a three-part series)

Once you’ve settled on a firm, your work is not done. You need to spell out details of the agreement in a formal contract and actively manage the campaign.  For guidance on these issues, I again consulted the Federal Trade Commission.


♦ SERVICES RENDERED: It could be limited to phone solicitations or include other methods of communication and outreach. Select only the services that best meet your needs and budget. Also, you’ll need to decide whether or not to allow the use of subcontractors.

MATERIALS USED: Ensure the firm uses materials approved by your agency when interacting with the public, particularly phone scripts and printed literature mailed to donors. Ensure information about your agency and benefits regarding tax donation are correct. Make sure any description(s) of how donations will be used aligns with your plans and objectives.

REPORTS/FINANCIAL RECORDS: Require detailed reports of results during and after the campaign. Donor’ checks should be payable to your agency, NOT the solicitor. Review financial and sales records regularly.

LIST OWNERSHIP: The FTC recommends specifying ownership of donor lists, which usually belong to the nonprofit. If you own the list(s) and offer them for rental or exchange, consider donor privacy: you might want to provide donors an opportunity to opt out from lists provided to phone solicitors or outside mailers. If the list is owned by the telemarketer, you should retain access to specific data to provide reports to regulators, and tax information to donors.


While the firm is handling your campaign, you are responsible for their actions on your behalf. Therefore, maintain close contact for the duration. The FTC recommends the following:

MONITOR TELEMARKETING: Require the firm have a system for training and monitoring phone solicitors to ensure authorized scripts are  used properly. Provide telemarketers answers to frequently asked questions and call donors randomly to review conversations.  

TRACK COMPLAINTS/EXPENSES: Monitor any complaints from the public. If you see a pattern, examine what may be causing problems and discuss ways to resolve them with the fund-raiser. Also track expenses. Obtain copies of original invoices as received, paid receipts as paid, deposit slips, bank statements and checks. Examine any costs that seem too high. 


This post completes the series. Hopefully it has been helpful to those considering using this form of fund-raising. While it may have been review for seasoned managers and executives, there are many start-ups and less-experienced professionals that would benefit. Additionally, when I attend nonprofit meetings and conferences, management expertise is often a popular topic of discussion. I wanted to address that need in regard to this aspect of fund-raising.  


Several private nonprofits promote standards in philanthropy, including guides to using professional fund-raisers. For additional information, contact:

BBB Wise Giving Alliance (

American Institute of Philanthropy (

Charity Navigator (

BoardSource (


QUESTION TO READERS: Any thoughts or comments you would like to add about this series?









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