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Text Message Fundraising-The FCC, TCPA and What You Need To Know

“The minute you read something that you can't understand, you can almost be sure that it was drawn up by a lawyer. ” ~Will Rogers

IF YOU’RE NOT SCARED, SIGN UP BELOW

It doesn’t do much good if you raise a whole bunch of money and then get fined more than you raise, does it? Staying on the right side of regulators is absolutely crucial for any business, but especially an organization involved in representing a person running for public office.

In 2014, email was the undisputed champion of fundraising. Text message fundraising was not even tracked in 2014, despite having read and response rates of 4.5x to 8x that of email. Most campaigns are pretty happy if their read rate on an email is over 20%. What if I told you that the text read rate is ~98%? Click here to see a ”fundraising comparison between email and text.”

Even the ”behavioral impact of text messages” is shockingly powerful. So why have political campaign managers and fundraising consultants ignored such a powerful medium for raising money?

Quite simply, it’s new and the risks are not identified and/or understood.

We asked LMB LAW FIRM ”Laila Archer, Principal of LMB Law Firm, PLLC” and an attorney familiar with the TCPA a few questions on the use of text messaging in the political fundraising realm.

“As a general rule, political calls, as long as you're not placing telemarketing calls and text messages to cell phones only require ORAL CONSENT. However, having written consent is always a better policy. Therefore, the following is a basic list of good procedures to implement when running such campaign:

1: ONLY TEXT PEOPLE FROM YOUR OWN DATABASE. In other words, do not purchase lists of names and indiscriminately contact the people on that list without knowing who they are.

2: give the recipients an option to no longer receive these messages and OPT OUT.

3: Remove people from that list who have selected to opt out from receiving future messages.

Using text messaging as a tool for fundraising in political campaigns requires adherence to the FCC's rules. The FCC has explained that political calls and text messages are subject to restrictions just like prerecorded voice and auto dialed calls. The difference between a manual call/text message and an auto dialed message is crucial as auto dialed calls require the consent of the recipient under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). Messages sent manually are generally not subject to the same requirements of written express consent as other text messages sent from autodialers.

In an important decision earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held in Glauser v. GroupMe, Inc., No. C 11-2584 PJH, 2015 WL 475111 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2015) that a company that sent group text messages where the sender had to select the recipient list was not an auto dialer. This is significant because sending messages through and autodialer versus in non-autodialer entails different rules with the former being a lot more regulated. In the GroupMe decision, the court rested its decision on the fact that the application did not have the capacity to dial numbers without human intervention. Texting Base requires a person, the sender, to select the recipients of each message. The FCC's website provides a lot of guidelines on political calls. Manually sent text messages are permissible.

However, in an abundance of caution, the FCC's rules regarding sending text messages should be considered in setting up texting campaigns for fundraising in a political setting.

http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-warns-political-campaigns-and-promoters-against-robocall-abuse

http://www.fcc.gov/document/political-campaigns-restrictions-autodialed-prerecorded-calls

Any texting platform you choose to use should at a minimum have an automatic “opt out” so you can stay in compliance.

Texting can be an amazing tool to help political campaigns and consultants raise money in ways they have never done before. As spam filters become more and more robust and email lists dwindle, campaigns will need new and improved ways to bring in the money needed to fund a campaign. Implementing an effective campaign can be the difference between a win and a loss in any given political year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Beans

Eric Beans is CEO of Texting Base, Inc., out of Orlando, Florida. Texting Base is a cloud-based software allows entities to personalize their group text messages. Prior to Texting Base, Eric was a partner in Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted Mortgage Company that grew to over 1B/Year in originations. Eric is an inventor, investor, and entrepreneur. Eric has experience in writing, radio, TV and entertainment.

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