SMS marketing is considered an electronic form of communication. That means its use is governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations. It may sound scary, but it really isn’t that hard to understand. However, I thought it worthwhile to go over the basics of the EC Directive to help you better understand what you can and can’t do with your SMS marketing.
In the warnings issued by the ICO, several key paragraphs from the EC Directive are quoted. They basically say that no one can send unsolicited messages to any individual without prior consent. It then goes on to state three criteria used to determine what consent means (from Regulation 22):
“A person may send or instigate the sending of electronic mail for the purposes of direct marketing where –
(a) that person has obtained the contact details of the recipient of that electronic mail in the course of the sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;
(b) the direct marketing is in respect of that person’s similar products and services only; and
(c) the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the costs of the transmission of the refusal) the use of his contact details for the purposes of such direct marketing, at the time that the details were initially collected, and where he did not initially refuse the use of details, at the time of each subsequent communication.”
That is honestly a mouthful of words, but very important ones. Here’s a simple interpretation you can take when dealing with your Volunteers.
As long as you ask for consent when signing a Volunteer up to the VolunteerKinetic system, which you do as part of the terms and conditions. you can send that Volunteer text messages that are related to the service the volunteer undertakes. For example, other voluntary opportunities and non-voluntary information that is similar to the Volunteering the person has undertook. This could be a training course that is suitably matched to the volunteers area of voluntary experience, or other services as long as they are related to the Volunteering.
You can not send SMS messages about unrelated services or products, for example the opportunity to buy a holiday or book cinema tickets unless that was specifically related to the voluntary opportunity the volunteer signed up to.
Part c is important, as you must make it simple for the Volunteer to opt out of any future communications if they wish.
Following these rules will keep you inside the law and hopefully will keep your Volunteers happy. If you have any stories of Good / bad practice of how to use SMS messaging to increase Volunteer retention and recruitment please feel free to send them to me firstname.lastname@example.org