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Our honest answers to burning questions about telephone fundraising and Ethicall

Our honest answers to burning questions about telephone fundraising and Ethicall

Frequently asked questions

We strongly believe in open and honest relationships with everyone we work with. So here are our honest answers to some burning questions you may have about telephone fundraising and how we work at Ethicall.

What is Ethicall and what does it do for our charity?

Ethicall specialises in ethical telephone fundraising, just for charities. We have inspiring conversations with charity supporters that aim to help them feel more connected and loyal to the charity and its work, that increase awareness and understanding of the cause, and which encourage them to donate money.

By listening to and respecting your supporter needs, Ethicall builds trust with these individuals, which in turn helps generate more income for the organisation, both in the immediate term and over the lifetime of the donor's relationship with the charity.

Why do we do telephone fundraising? And why do we use an agency?

To raise the funds they need to achieve their charitable goals, charities need to develop and maintain long-term relationships with donors. Contacting people by telephone can be an effective way to enhance knowledge and understanding of a cause and to inspire and motivate them to give. The telephone is also one of the only ways, for charities to have 2 ways conversations with their many donors.

As a specialist telephone fundraising organisation we have built up the professional skills required to make telephone fundraising deliver solid returns for charities, on average we give £2 back for every £1 invested. Charities often do not have willing volunteers to undertake this work on the scale required to deliver these results.

Telephone fundraising also requires considerable infrastructure and expertise, which can make it expensive for charities to do themselves, particularly if they only want to do one or two campaigns a year. By outsourcing to a professional organisation such as Ethicall, charities save money and resources because Ethicall provides the skilled, trained fundraisers and the call centre equipment needed, thus offering economies of scale that cannot be achieved in-house.

What makes Ethicall 'ethical'?

Ethical values run through the entire company, from the way the organisation is run from top to bottom, the way in which it fundraises and the way in which it looks after its team.

The 'ethical' nature of Ethicall is reflected in the fact that it has won numerous awards both for its business practices and for its success within fundraising, is regularly audited and is accredited by a number of organisations, including the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, The Fundraising Regulator and the Direct Marketing Association, among others.

In addition, Ethicall gives 25% of its profit to good causes and since 2007 has donated in excess of £1.3m.

Does Ethicall work on commission and what kind of return does it generate for us?

Ethicall receives a flat rate per-contact and does not operate on a commission basis or cost per recruit. Operating in this way removes any incentive to put pressure on donors.

All of the money raised goes to the charity. On average, for every £1 a charity invests in telephone fundraising via Ethicall, it receives £2 in return.

Do Fundraisers have targets? Are they paid commission?

To ensure we deliver the best returns for our charity clients our fundraisers do have targets, both qualitative and quantitative. Ethicall’s belief is that great supporter experience should always come first, though this needs to be balanced with delivering a long term return on Investment (ROI) to charity partners so they can continue to deliver their important work. We also need to be effective as a responsible business and this is why quantity targets exist. We are confident we achieve the right balance by our exceptionally low complaint rate.

We focus on paying a decent hourly wage rather than any incentives payments.

Is Ethicall fully compliant with all legal requirements?

Ethicall is fully compliant with all legal requirements. It has appropriate registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office; it is TPS-assured meaning that its best practice in relation to TPS has been reviewed and approved by TPS; data suppliers are vetted to make sure they follow DMA / TPS guidelines; and data is screened in accordance with fundraising rules.

In addition, Ethicall’s accounts are externally audited, and in a recent Fundraising Quality audit by Grant Thornton, Ethicall was found to conduct itself in an appropriate manner, in line with all relevant Codes of Practice, that their team of fundraisers are taken through formal training, induction, observation/coaching and probationary steps as they progress and that these overall processes are in line with the Institute of Fundraising’s Codes of Practice and what they would expect.

Ethicall monitors changing regulation carefully and always strives to be ahead of the curve in adoption and implementation of new rules and best practice.

Which industry bodies does Ethicall belong to?

Ethicall are members of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF), registered with the Fundraising Standard Board (FSB) and are also members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

How can we be sure Ethicall does not use aggressive fundraising techniques that put pressure on our donors?

Successful fundraising involves balancing the needs of the charity (to raise money to deliver its services) with the needs of the donor (to feel respected and appreciated, and for giving to be a joy). This balance is precisely what Ethicall aims to achieve. It does this by:

Listening: Ethicall fundraisers ask supporters whether the call is convenient and respond to the answer accordingly. If the supporter says it is not a convenient time or asks not to be contacted the fundraiser abides by these wishes. Equally, if a donor says they do not want to give this is respected.

Respect: Data is screened in accordance with fundraising rules and TPS-registered donors are not contacted, unless supporters have given their consent to be contacted. Ethicall does not use high-pressure techniques. Fundraisers do not have a tight script and are given the freedom to use their own initiative (within the guidelines set by Ethicall and the charity) to engage in a conversation with the supporter. They are not rewarded purely by meeting financial targets, but by a combination of factors, including supporter satisfaction and the quality of their calls.

Monitor: Our independent call monitoring company measures the quality of our conversations, and any concerns raised are fully investigated.

How does Ethicall train its fundraisers in relation to our cause and the work that we do?

Ethicall's fundraisers receive regular training and support. All fundraisers are trained on a number of general issues, including information about charity giving and fundraising, legal requirements and the vulnerable person’s policy, before receiving specific training with regards to the individual charities and their campaigns. No one goes on the phone unless they have been fully trained.

The charity campaign briefing, which the charity will play an integral role in, includes information about the charity, objectives of the campaign, the supporters being called, and the type of responses likely to be received. A role-play with all fundraisers checks understanding of the brief, while rejection handling training provides additional support.

Where possible fundraisers are given first-hand experience of the cause, whether this is undertaking blind folded walks to get sense of what it’s like to be blind, visiting wildlife reserves or research labs, or even going out on lifeboats. We work with your charity to design the guidelines for conversations and set the level of involvement with charitable activities that suits you.

What are the systems that are in place that allow us to check scripts, monitor performance, and ensure quality control?

What are the systems that are in place that allow us to check scripts, monitor performance, and ensure quality control?
Ethicall works closely with all of our clients to ensure effective lines of communication and high quality service. This includes feedback to clients every day when campaigns are live so they know exactly what is happening and the conversations that are being had. Clients are also able to listen into the live calls and see the results.

Ethicall does not use set scripts, instead preferring to use guidelines, which we feel facilitate a more genuine conversation with supporters. These guidelines, which are paper-based not screen-based, can be read but the preference is for fundraisers to use initiative and to hold conversations.

There is a set structure: problem; solution; ask. And a set theme and topic, and fundraisers have to stick to the charity’s message. Other than that, fundraisers have the freedom to hold their own conversations and build rapport with supporters.

End-of-campaign reviews are conducted which assess what worked, what didn’t and what could be better next time. These are presented personally to the client allowing for full and in depth reviews of each and every campaign.

How many times do you ask for money on a call?

Our fundraisers are focused on delivering results for our clients. It is our job to ask. We encourage our fundraisers to use the ‘ask’ structure that we agree with our charity partners before we make any campaign calls, but we also stress that they should ask as and when it is appropriate, and to find the most comfortable way for a donor to support the work of the charity.

We never require our fundraisers to apply pressure and are absolutely focused on quality and respectful interactions with supporters, leaving the donor with a positive experience regardless of the outcome of the call.

If a client has requested using a ‘3 ask’ approach it is never mandatory, it is encouraged, and fundraisers are asked to use their own judgement and listen and respond appropriately to supporters. We believe we deliver this effectively, as is demonstrated by our exceptionally low complaint rate.

What do you do if someone does not wish to be called?

Ethicall are not in the business of intrusive calling. The first thing we ask is if the supporter is happy to take the call from us. If someone tells us they are not interested in having a conversation and would prefer not to be called again, we remove them and pass this information back to our charity partners. Most details are provided by the charity on whose behalf we are raising money. You can ask to be removed at any time either by phone or by emailing takemeoffyourlist@ethicall.org.uk. We do pass this information on to our charity partners but we would also ask you to let the individual charities you support know that you do not wish to be contacted by telephone in future.

We are paid on a ‘per contact’ basis (this means per completed call with an outcome – positive or negative) and are not incentivised; therefore it is not in our interest to be anything but customer focused when speaking to existing and potential supporters.

We would not pursue a potential donor who has indicated that he or she would prefer not to engage in conversation on the phone. People choose to support charities and not-for-profit concerns in different ways and we are appreciative of that.

Our employees undergo extensive training to identify when someone is unwilling to engage in dialogue on the telephone on behalf of our clients and will not pursue the conversation if it is clear that the person they have called does not wish to speak to them.

If we are made aware of anyone contravening any of the above standards and measures, we would take swift and immediate action.

On average 85% of the people we contact are happy to talk about the charity they support.

How do you choose who to call?

Ethicall do not choose, our charity clients provide us with the data or authorise the source of data of who they would like us to call. Generally the people we call are people who already have some form of relationship with the charity concerned, usually having donated or campaigned on the charity’s behalf.

Where no previous relationship exists we have permission to call as the person has consented to hear from a specific charity (most often this is as a result of participating in internet or telephone surveys or campaigning petitions).

What happens if a donor complains about Ethicall’s fundraising?

On the rare occasion that supporters complain about Ethicall’s fundraising, the issue is fully investigated and we work closely with the supporter to ensure all their concerns are addressed promptly and professionally. Ethicall’s complaint policy can be found on our website www.ethicall.org.uk/what

We’ve heard that these telephone “call centres” are terrible places to work, where fundraisers are put under immense pressure and have poor working conditions. Is that the same at Ethicall?

The success of any business is entirely dependent on the quality of its people. To ensure a happy, healthy and productive workforce, Ethicall employs a number of HR policies and processes, namely:

Recruitment process: Ethicall works closely with a recruitment agency to ensure a high calibre of fundraisers are recruited. All staff are screened, vetted and have to undergo a detailed interview process that includes face-to-face interviews and role-play. All staff references (two years back) are taken up prior to starting work.

Benefits package: Staff receive a good package of benefits that includes a pension, and health care, and an award scheme that recognises excellence of service and results.

Professional development: Ethicall offers good career progression opportunities. Fundraising staff receive regular training and are supported by full-time coaches who listen in on calls, provide regular feedback and continually push the highest quality. There are opportunities to move up the career ladder.

All of the above is evidenced by the staff retention rates. Ethicall fundraising staff stay in post for 69 weeks on average, compared to 8 weeks for other call centre environments. Back office staff average stay is currently 258 weeks. In addition, the high levels of staff satisfaction is reflected in the results achieved by the fundraisers – the happier the team, the more money they raise.

Who are your Directors and what are their backgrounds?

Cristy Cunnick, Managing Director
Alex Weeks-Smyth, Client Services Director
Ben Talbot, Fundraising Centre Director
David Walwin, Compliance Director
Christopher Welsh, Finance Director
James Wheatcroft, Non-Executive Director

We all have backgrounds in fundraising in a number of other similar companies or in our areas of specialism within the business. Collectively we have 90 years experience in fundraising.

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Call us on: 0117 428 1900

Email us on: enquiries@ethicall.org.uk