FUND-RAISING WITHOUT A LICENCE
by C. Yvonne Chenier
When door-to-door canvassers knock on my door or telephone solicitors call on the telephone (usually during mealtime), I often query them about their charitable activities and their objectives. Furthermore, I always ask them if they are registered or have a licence to fund-raise. Most of the canvassers who have been armed with official badges or those on the phone with an official script give an answer like “I am sure we are” or “We probably are”. I put them on hold for a moment or ask them to wait at the door and I avail myself of some of the numerous web-searching technologies we have at our disposal at home these days to do a search of their organization on a few websites. I do this to find out if they are registered as a charity authorized to fund-raise by telephone or door-to-door as they are in fact doing.
I am sad to say that in many cases I find that the person in front of me at the door or on the telephone line does not represent an organization that is legally permitted to ask me for a donation. Most of them simply are not registered under the Charitable Fund-raising Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. C-9 even though it is a simple matter to comply. To get registered under this legislation and similar statutes in other provinces in Canada they simply have to submit an application and provide information such as samples of their fund-raising solicitation material, to obtain a permit before they are granted the licence to fund-raise either door-to-door, on the telephone or in any other way.
I tell the person soliciting my dollars to tell their boss that they are not legally allowed to ask me for money at the door or on the telephone, as the case may be, and I send them on their way with a message that if they need help in this matter they can certainly call me at any time. I sometimes tell them that I am a Girl Guide Leader, representing an organization that is registered under the legislation, and even the youngest members know exactly what they are raising money for when they sell their delicious Girl Guide cookies door- to-door twice a year.
During the recent holiday season I had time to carefully open and review all of the donation request letters, brochures, magazines that I received from any group soliciting my December donations. I did my search on every one of them and was very surprised that some of them, even some of the biggest national charities that you and I could name, were not licensed under the Alberta Charitable Fundraising Act. So legally they couldn’t even mail me anything in Alberta. I just threw those in the garbage.
The lesson for charities is that there are donors out there such as myself and some of the others I advise who are asking for this information. The charity has to be prepared to provide it and if they cannot provide it the donation dollars will not flow. In my view it is only a matter of time before a charity is exposed for not crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s before they make the ask.