Fundraising is not an easy job, I get that. Asking strangers for money requires a lot of nerve and very thick skin. Telemarketers probably get hung up on and verbally abused more often than not, so I suspect there is a high burnout rate in these roles. The toughest telemarketer to deal with is the one calling on behalf of a charity because unlike other ‘for profit’ businesses, they are calling to solicit for those in actual need. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. The lines of ‘business profit’ and true ‘charity’ have blurred, and all are now competing to win over the same donors so their tactics have become more aggressive.
For all of my adult life I have made it a point to give to charity when I can. Some are closer to my heart than others, some just make sense because they aid in the research of serious illness and some are to help those less fortunate. In hind sight I probably have been more charitable at certain times of the year; Christmas, or when I might’ve received a bonus at work. I am not wealthy by any means, but I do consider myself more fortunate than many. I have bills and a budget, but I’ve always manage to squeeze out a few dollars to help another and felt really good about it, until recently.
Earlier in the year I sent money to a couple of charities. I got my tax receipt with their thank-you note – end of story, you’d think,,,,but no. I then started getting phone calls asking for another donation; a new project or different arm of the organization now needed funding. I listened politely, explained that I had already made a donation and wasn’t in a position to give more at this time and trusted that it would end here. But it didn’t.
I started getting mail from several charities (clearly my name had been shared on some list) and in fairness I did donate to one or two that I hadn’t before. That was my mistake because I was now on the call list of several more charities. (I never gave out my telephone number but it was found) Calls were coming in at all hours, with particular volume over the supper hour because you’re pretty much guaranteed to catch people at dinner. It got so we stopped answering the phone over the dinner hours and resorted to serious call-screening the rest of the day, but the calls keep coming.
They all have a ‘script’ to read, and launch into it the minute you answer. You try to interrupt but they just keep going without taking a breath and the only way to extricate yourself from what will be a good ten minutes of insincere pleading is to hang up, because they won’t give up. I try to be the ‘nice guy’ in dealing with these telemarketers because I know they take a lot of abuse and I do not envy them their job but when they started to employ sleazy tactics I knew I’d reached my limit. These agents called on the pretense of ‘thanking me’ for my donation and wanted to let me know ‘how my generous donation would be put to use’. And then they’d launch into their spiel about how sadly this wasn’t enough to meet their goals and more funds were needed to ensure success. Surely I could give more generously???? (yeah, guilt, that’ll win me over)
One agent even went so far as to accuse me of ‘not caring’ about the cause because I wasn’t willing to give more than I already had. Are these people trained to use guilt as a leverage or was this particular agent taking license on behalf of the organization? If the latter, how unfortunate for the charity, because after that call I made a vow to never donate to them again. I found the tactics employed distasteful and sadly in contradiction to the very meaning of the word ‘charity’.
People give what the can, when they can. Some are in a position to give more than others but at the end of the day we all do what feels right for our conscience and our budget, and if we consistently fall for every sob story and/or bully who calls, we may find ourselves on the receiving end of charity because we’re just tapped out.
I for one will be much more selective about to whom I give my charitable dollars and when I do I make it clear that I do not want any follow up calls of any kind. Don’t thank me. I don’t want to hear how you’re using my donation. Just be grateful you got it and stop harassing me because if you don’t you’ll never get another one again.