DMA Requests Nonprofits to Suspend Prospecting

The Direct Marketing Association yesterday called on its nonprofit members to suspend outbound telephone fundraising calls except to donors with whom the organization has a prior established relationship.

In an e-mail from his personal address, DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen called on its 300 nonprofit members to cease prospecting for new donors via telemarketing until at least the end of the month. The association also encouraged non-member charities to follow suit.

“This is a temporary measure. … In this time of national tragedy, this is simply the right thing to do,” Wientzen's e-mail said.

The development comes amid reports that scam artists have contacted consumers by telephone to attract donations for nonexistent funds.

Earlier this week, the American Teleservices Association warned consumers to beware of fraudulent telephone fundraising schemes trying to capitalize on last week's terrorist attacks.

The ATA condemned the practice of using events in New York and Washington to defraud the public.

The DMA also issued a similar warning and advised consumers to donate solely to legitimate, well-known organizations such as the United Way, Salvation Army and Red Cross.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani warned the city's consumers soon after the attacks about a phony organization claiming to be raising funds for the disaster effort. Giuliani said authorities were trying to track the perpetrators but offered no further information.

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