Loren Genson and David Knox
The national debate over gun control is fought with words — words spoken in Congress, printed in newspapers, and broadcast on radio, television and across the Internet.
Getting those words out requires money.
That’s very good news for InfoCision, the Northeast Ohio firm that is the chief telemarketer for the National Rifle Association.
Headquartered just over the Medina County line in Bath Township in Summit County, InfoCision earned more than $53 million for its work for the NRA from 2008 through 2011, according to tax documents.
Founded in 1982, InfoCision claims the title of the nation’s second-largest privately held telemarketing company, providing telephone, direct mail and Internet-based marketing for both charities and for-profit companies across the nation.
The company has 4,400 employees in 32 call centers at a dozen sites in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada. With about 1,400 workers at its three-building campus in Bath Township, InfoCision is Summit County’s 14th largest employer, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business.
InfoCision has raised money for some of the biggest charities in the U.S., including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Diabetes Association and the March of Dimes.
But it also works for other nonprofit organizations, such as the NRA. As a nonprofit, the NRA is exempt from federal income tax, but must file Form 990 tax returns annually detailing where it gets and how it spends its money.
Listed on the forms as the NRA’s biggest private contractor, InfoCision both solicits donations for the NRA’s efforts opposing increased gun regulation and processes the organization’s memberships.
InfoCision brought in $41.9 million on behalf of the NRA from 2008 to 2011, the last year records are available. Of that amount, InfoCision kept $24.6 million — or about 59 percent.
Over the four years, the company was paid an additional $28.7 million for membership processing, according to the IRS forms.
The NRA claims to have more than
4 million members. Membership dues, which are not tax deductible, range from $35 annually to $1,000 for a lifetime membership, according to the NRA’s website. Membership dues made up roughly half of the NRA’s total revenue of
$219 million in 2011, according the IRS returns.
What portion of InfoCision’s revenue comes from the NRA isn’t known. As a privately held company — Craig Taylor, the 27-year-old son of founder Gary Taylor, was named CEO last fall — InfoCision does not have to report its earnings.
Neither the NRA nor InfoCision would comment on their financial dealings.
“Unfortunately I’m not authorized to comment on specific client relationships, due to our confidentiality agreements,” InfoCision spokeswoman Gretchen Fri.
But some idea of the importance of the NRA contract can be gleaned from published statements from InfoCision officials. According to a Nov. 10 story in the Akron Beacon Journal, the company expected revenues totaling about
$180 million last year — about 12.5 percent more than in 2007.
The InfoCision officials talked about the company’s earnings and details of its fundraising following a September story by Bloomberg News. The story reported that InfoCision kept 52 percent of the total $424.5 million it had raised for more than 30 nonprofits between 2007 and 2010.
While it’s not unusual for telemarketing companies to keep a substantial share of money raised for charity, some of InfoCision’s practices were targeted by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
In a civil action filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, DeWine’s office accused InfoCision of improperly conducting telephone solicitations and failing to file proper documentation with the state.
The case was settled last April. While admitting no wrongdoing, InfoCision agreed to pay Ohio $75,000 and to change its calling practices. The company also was required to submit at least 15 recorded telephone calls on behalf of charities to the attorney general’s office for review each month.
While officials of the NRA and InfoCision declined to discuss their marketing plans, recent postings on InfoCision’s website and in local newspapers show the company is hiring.
A Jan. 15 Web posting from a Point Pleasant, W.Va., newspaper said InfoCision’s Gallipolis call center in Southern Ohio was looking for people to “make calls for the NRA and other conservative political organizations.”
A more recent posting states InfoCision is looking to hire full-time, night-shift workers “to make calls for the National Rifle Association” at its Bath Township call center.
Pay starts at $9.55 per hour “plus weekly bonuses.”
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact reporter David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or email@example.com.