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September 08, 2009


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I think you are just being a jerk because it is your money and that's fine, you have a right to do that. Personally, I do not entertain any phone solicitations either. But I would not go as far to end my relationship with the organization. Some constructive feedback back to the organization might help.

Here is my take, If you like the charity, you have to give it some benefit of doubt. Most solicitations are run by volunteers and some are simply given a script to read, which is probably what the person on the other end had in your case. It does not change the way this organization puts your money to good use, it simply reflects the naivette of the volunteer person on the other side of the phone.

My opinion is that if you really think that this organization puts your charitable donations to good use, you should reconsider, if nothing else it will save you from researching and finding another organization that puts your money to good use.


That is quite a sticky situation. I know how you feel. Now I'm not saying that you necessarily did the wrong thing, but perhaps if you really like this charity, you could request to be taken off their phone list and then donate via mail anyway? I just think it sucks that one overzealous customer service rep ruined it for the recipients of the charity.

I tend to agree with VK and Juliet ("jerk" comment excepted). You've deemed them a worthy cause in the past, and it seems a bit capricious to cut them off completely over one bad experience with a phone solicitor.

I don't think you're being unreasonable. No solicitations means no solicitations, period.

My alma mater kept sending me solicitations after I signed up for a lifetime alumni membership and specifically asked them NOT to send any solicitations.

A charity I once supported regularly sent me solicitations and other mailings telling me I needed to renew my membership (~$25/year), despite the fact that I was giving them a monthly donation. I stopped giving for that reason.

Keep in mind that if this is a well run charity, they probably contract those solicitation calls out to companies that provide that service. These companies are provided with your name, phone number, and the amount you contributed in the past. That's about it. Plus, they ARE given a script and several ways to counter the negative responses (trust me, my wife used to work in that industry). The companies that do this probably do work for non-charity type companies as well and are well versed in not taking no for an answer.

I highly recommend that you reconsider pulling your funding. That charity was not aware of your interaction, nor were they aware of your desire not to be solicited over the phone (unless you specifically contacted them and told them which you should have done). If you did your due diligence and deemed them an acceptable charity, then you shouldn't hold it against them.

Phone solicitation is a practice that demonstrates zero respect for your "customers"--whether they're donating to your charity or purchasing your products. It's pushy, annoying, and inherently hard-sell and very often a scam. I can't see why any businesses or charities would want to use it--phone solicitation automatically makes them look sketchy.

Ditto for charities that send email spam.

If you're a legit charity, send me something in writing that clearly states what you want to spend my money on. You might want to include what % of my gift you would spend on administration--it would save me from calling you to find out before I give you anything.

I think FMF was more polite than I would have been. As soon as I figure out a phone call is a solicitation call (charity or otherwise) I say - over the top of the person who is usually still speaking - "no thank you" and immediately hang up.

I think rdub98 hit the nail on the head. I recommend contacting the charity and letting them know how these telemarketers are behaving themselves. Whatever action you decide to take can be based on their response.

On a side note, the fact that they're contracting out solicitations is yet another reason not to donate over the phone. Less money is going to the charity; I've heard of the telemarketers taking half the proceeds!

I can envision the environment the caller was working in. She probably was working in a cubicle or a long line of desks with many other callers. There probably was a supervisor strolling the area and observing her and all the other workers. She persisted with you because her supervisor was probably standing directly over her at the time and she was desperate to keep her job.

At the risk of offending telmarketers everywhere, I can't think of a worse job. There is no way I could do it.

FMF, as a marketing executive, have you ever been involved in projects that hire telemarketers? Even if you have not, I'm sure you understand the pressure they work under.

This really touched a nerve. We give what we can, because my family believe that is the right thing to do. I hate it that because of our generosity we are bombarded by usually pushy requests for more.

On the other hand, if you have taken the time to vet this organization (a wise thing) then perhaps communicating your displeasure to them and giving them one more chance would be better. Perhaps they were trying to cut costs by outsourcing and getting valued feedback from someone who has supported them will help them to make better decisions. You may not be the only one not happy with this approach.

If that doesn't work, I would drop them like a hot potato.

"Jerk"??? When there is complete disrespect for his personal time and his family's policy regarding phone solicitation (which was politely stated, mind you)? Is that how you thank a previous donor?

I'm with you, FMF. In addition, I would have told them right there exactly why they just lost a donor.

rwh --

1. No, I've never used telemarketers.

2. Yes, I do understand how they work, how to make them more effective, etc.

3. A company that would hire a telemarketer (I'm not sure if this was one or an employee of the charity) and then turn my info over to them would be off my list in double time.

"homey don't do that" LOL. :)

Sorry, but I have to disagree on the "if they're worthy you should keep giving" suggestion.

The one and only benefit I want from charitable contributions is the joy of giving. The minute I feel harassed, or pressured, or guilty because I didn't give more, our relationship is over. Yes, even just once, and no, I won't go out of my way to tell them why (although if they were to ask... but they never do).

There are more worthy causes and groups serving them than I can ever hope to support. I realize that aggressive telemarketing works, and increases what the charity gets. If those techniques don't bother you, by all means continue your support. But then they don't need me. I'll just go elsewhere, and I certainly don't blame anyone else for doing the same.

It's gotten to the point that one organization (a small, local charity) gets a substantially larger share of my donations than any other. Why? Because the only time they ever contact me is *after* a donation to say "thank you" (and provide tax docs). Every year my other favorites get a little more aggressive, and every year that charity gets a little bit more of my funds designated for giving. I'm about ready to give it all to them and call it good.

I guess I'm unlike you in that phone calls don't bother me much (we can either screen or do the quick "no thanks" hang-up) but mailed information from groups we've given to, unless requested, is on my no-no list. The sheer waste - more stuff just going straight from mailbox to recycling bin - drives me up the wall.

If you give money as a result of a phone solicitation, it will be noted and you will then be contacted that way again and probably on a more frequent basis.


I had the same conversation with a telemarketer for a charity about 2 years ago. I generally hate telemarketing and am quick to ask them to remove my # from their list. But the agressive salesperson in question wouldn't take 'no' for an answer and just kept pitching me. So I emailed the charity and told them about it. They apologized profusely and said they'd check into it with their telemarketing sub contractor. Their response helped me feel a lot better about the situation.

I would at least let the charity in question know what happened and tell them why you're dropping your support. You might be surprised and they might take corrective action on their end. Or at least you've given them the feedback that might help them end their telemarketing practices. If you don't give them that feedback then they can't know how to fix the problem.


Basic fundraising statistics show that a solicitation via letter/mail becomes a gift 1%-3% of the time, whereas a phone solicitation produces 20%-25% success. Non-profits, in general, prefer the personal ask as opposed to the impersonal letter request.

Don't you want your non-profit organizations to use their resources wisely and efficiently?

As soon as I figure out it's a charity that's calling me, I hang up.

Nonprofits are exempt from the restrictions of the Do Not Call list. I can't stop them from calling if I wanted to. So, I hang up.

I agree and never give to phone solicitations - I just tell them that I only donate to the local branch of charities and try to contribute to local organizations who keep their money in our community.

You are NOT a jerk and you have every right to refuse to donate to anyone. Thanks for the tip about "sending something in the mail". Those scripted phone calls kill me. That is NO way to ask for donations. If they can't carry on a normal conversation without having to read a script as-one-long-run-on-sentence, screw them. You are under NO obligation to hear them out. They interrupted you, not the other way around. If I don't recognize the phone number on the called ID, I don't answer the phone. My life. My money. Leave me alone.

I agree with Doug. For the past 20 years I have refused, and politely say no & hang up on, phone solicitations. Started when I gave to Amer. Cancer Society after my mother died. They called every 6 weeks for about a year. Turned me off completely.

Instead I started donating to local charities that needed specific items - women's shelter that needed personal care items, animal shelter that needed bedding and now items for a resale shop that supports Rape and Abuse victims where all proceeds go to the Center (county donates building and electricity as it is part of the recycle center).

With the economy as it is, I think we all have to reassess how our donations are being used - personally I want at least 90% going to the charity, not to the running of it.

I agree with you. I don't give to any charities that call on the phone. I'm not as nice as you actually though. I just say not interested and hang up the phone. I also do not answer the door to solicitors of ANY kind - charity or business. Leave me alone in my home. Any donation WILL lead to more solicitations.

charity or other, if they start into a script, they talk to my desk for 5 minutes. Easy, simple, and I get a small piece of joy from it to offset my frustration.

FMF, if you got bad customer service from a company you otherwise were happy with (and I mean one incident of modest severity, not someone punching one of your kids the last three times you went to the store), would you cut them off immediately, or would you contact a supervisor and try to rectify the situation first?

I follow the same "send me written materials" approach, and of course I know it's your money (and unlike many people, I actually trust that you'll funnel that money to another charity rather than to the FMF Fund). I understand why you'd be irritated by this encounter. But don't you think it's at least worth trying to address with the charity rather than cutting them off immediately?

Sarah --

Maybe. But I hold a charity to a higher standard than a business.

While the telemarketer may have been reading from a script, trying to save her job, it doesn't change the fact that the charity gave the telemarketing company your name and number. The charity is responsible for the actions of the companies they hire, including your phone call and ultimately the loss of your future donations.

The way I'd give them a second chance is if I hadn't already requested to be on a do-not-call list. Otherwise, I'm sure the charity would appreciate knowing what they did to lose your support.

I can almost guarantee this person's supervisor was standing over their shoulder. I worked as a fundraiser for the alumni association in college. Most of the time when people said no or asked for written information we sent it to them like a sane person would. However if your boss was standing there, you were supposed to do your required pitch, asking at least three times if the person said no, otherwise your were written up. We weren't a contract company, we were hired by the university, but our supervisors all came from the "professional fundraising" world. I don't know why a professional wouldn't realize how annoying that can be.

I used to work as a telemarketer for non-profits. We were sub-contractors and the MOST we gave any of our charities was 20%. That's correct. My sub-contracted professional telemarketing company kept 80% of the proceeds, and the charity received 20%. That was the high-end. Several other charities only received 15% or 12.5%. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask the specific percentage of money that goes to the charity. Telemarketers are required to answer this question honestly. They will attempt to snow you the first time you ask, but ask again and they will eventually answer.

We were taught to keep pushing to get the sale, asking for lower and lower amounts until we couldn't even get a $5 donation. We were taught to do this regardless of what the person on the other end said. My advice would be to NEVER give to a phone solicitation. The overhead is unbelievable. You are mostly going to pay for high-school or college aged kids to call people up and pester them.

When someone calls soliciting, just hang up. Don't say anything. Just hang up.

Wow, I can't believe someone called you a jerk! I also can't believe that organizations still think that calling people on their phones to solicit is a good idea. The percentage of people who are happy to hear from you must be less than 1% so why do they continue this costly process? I too have long since stopped doing business with anyone who calls me unasked.

There are plenty of good charities to spread money around to without giving into this. I take it one step further, though, where I was a card-carrying member of a well-known non-profit and stopped giving them money because they kept wasting it on postage. I got at least one 8.5"x11" envelope from them every two months, several letter-size envelopes, and all this repeated in email in the same period. I volunteered in a small non-profit for a while and know how much postage and printing cost so I knew they were LOSING money on my membership due to the sheer volume of shill they sent me.

For identity theft reasons alone, never give your credit card info over the phone to someone.

I had a similar experience where I had donated to a charity once (probably a memorial gift or something -- not one that I regularly support), and the next year they phoned to solicit a donation. I said we couldn't support them again that year, the caller said "any amount would help" and I said sorry, we did not have the funds that year, so he said, "I'll just put you down for another $40", at which point I got mad and told him angrily that I had said we didn't have the money and please remove me from their solicitation list. I also wrote a letter telling them what happened and telling them to remove me from their solicitation list. A month or so later I was phoned again and solicited. Told the guy I had requested that they remove me from solicitation. Wrote another letter. They solicited me AGAIN, so I reported them to the BBB, and boy, did that ever get a prompt though terse reply from someone important basically telling me I should have let them know if I did not want to be solicited!

Another time I was solicited by a burn society, and since a neighbour of ours was severely burned a few years ago, I sent a donation. Later I found out that the burn society was NOT the same one that my neighbours supported and that some ungodly huge amount of money went to the telemarketing firm -- something close to 50%. Needless to say, they are off the list.

Now I make sure that when I FIRST send in a donation, I always mark down "no phone solicitation". But I am also moving most of my charitable giving to either local charities or else ones where there is very low admin costs and away from the ones where every month there is another letter about an urgent need and why don't you send in more, even though you are already a monthly donor.

As a former telemarketing supervisor, I'd just like to say alot of the telemarketers are actually high school kids. Their parents make them work & its an easy job that can be done after school. Where I worked they were required to give at least one rebuttal to a negative response or they could be fired. I have seen many younger girls in tears from hateful comments from the solicited person. Just keep in mind its easier to say Take me off your call list and hang up than to belittle a disadvantaged teenager over the phone.

I have found the best way to be charitable and not be swamped with solicitations. I only give charities donations with money orders. I write my name on the money order and the charity's full information and mail it to the charity. I can give with out the charity having any way to sell my information to other organizations plus I have a receipt for tax purposes. This also works great with the people that set up donation tables outside of stores since I keep a few $5/$10 money orders in my purse.

Thanks for all the posts. Here's what I learned.

1. 50% or more goes to anything but the charity you think you are supporting. Seriously?!
2. Telemarketers are required to keep pestering you even after you say "no thank you". Obviously this charity isn't interested in building a long-term relationships with you. Could you imagine if this were a department store and employees were forced to shove something down your throat. You wouldn't go back, right. It's not ok to do this over the phone either.
3. I'm not the only one who is frustrated by the number of calls and the daily disruption.

The best advice, though, was to just hang up. Save yourself the stress and let the marketer move on to the next call.

I personally like to donate locally to my church, schools and organizations which seem to be running great programs in the community. It's rewarding to see your hard earned dollars in action. Plus I eliminate the guilt associated with screening or hanging up.

I agree with your decision to not give over the phone. Way too many security risks with that.

However, the telemarketer probably had to get you to say no several times before she could enter the call. I know a few people (great coworkers) who lost their job at telemarketing agencies because they ended a call after one "no". Getting fired can make it that much harder to ever get another job on top of all the fallout of losing the current one.

I would let the charity know about your experience, they're probably unaware that the company they're using employs such tactics.

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