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Fundraising - The story of a donation

01/14/2014 - 01:00 PM

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How does phone-based fundraising really work?

Every time there is a request in a commercial or media campaign asking us to donate a small sum through a donation hotline, the first question that comes to mind is "will my money get to those who truly need it?"

The answer is yes. Just like operators who have signed the "Code of self-regulation for non-profit telephone fundraisers," Telecom Italia donates the full amount of donations received from its customers to the non-profit organization promoting the campaign.

But that’s not all: the donation hotline is free and exempt from taxes both for the final user as well as the non-profit, it is absolutely anonymous and does not imply any further communication with the donor once a donation has been made.

Interesting fact: not many people know that non-profit fundraising and donation hotlines are the only common ground that includes the joint collaboration of Italian telephone operators, who come together to allow an audience of potential donors to support the largest range of appeals from non-profit organization.

The advantage for telecom operators? None, at least in terms of cost efficiency. Donation hotlines fall under the social responsibility activities of operators, and are therefore a way to support the community in which they work. In fact, all of the costs for the telephone service are borne by the operators, and no part of donations made by donors is withheld.

From the donation hotline to the donation

How does the allocation of a donation hotline number work? Aimed at non-profit organizations, the process is simple and follows a very detailed procedure.

When a non-profit association prepares a fundraising campaign through a donation hotline, the Telecom Italian team, along with the other operators, take care of the request and carefully assess project from three points of view:

1.   Stability of the organization

The organization must provide evidence that certifies it as a trustworthy partner in the initiative, and ensure that donations received will be able to be concretely translated into real activities.

2. Project reliability
The project must absolutely be not-for-profit, and a description of how donations will be used will be requested, down to the smallest detail.

3. The project’s advertising campaign
One of the “musts” that is essential for a non-profit organization is the participation of national TV in spreading the message. It is critical that donation hotlines and the good causes to which they are linked are spread across the nation to the widest possible audience of potential donors. The reason is intuitive: the broader the penetration of the appeal, the more people who will be able to receive it and decide to donate if they have been sufficiently engaged. TV involvement is crucial, as it creates greater empathy among donors.

Once the donation hotline is activated, funds are received separately by each telephone operator as a representative of the organization with which they individually sign a specific agreement. The role of telephone operator ends when the donation hotline is deactivated, and after a few months for administrative purposes, all of the funds will be forwarded to the organization in full. At this point the organization will take over management of the funds to benefit the program presented during the donation hotline request.

Telecom Italia, like the other telephone operators, commits to requiring a detailed report from non-profits that indicates how much donated money was spent and how.

One such example? When the total funds donated is higher than the need described in the project, the organization is required to inform Telecom Italia of how it intends to invest the additional funds.

It’s a work format with one sole objective: assisting in fundraising for non-profit organizations.  

The importance of the mission that telephone operators undertake translates into a continuous mutual consultation: requests submitted are evaluated on a monthly basis, they often advise more inexperienced organizations and decisions are made on which projects to support, establishing precedence with respect to the many incoming requests. The number of available donation hotline numbers barely reaches twenty, while non-profit emergencies and projects are extremely numerous.

In practice it’s true teamwork to benefit the community.