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Charity telemarketers can be annoying

Blogger cut off a charity that pushed too hard.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 7:14PM

Has a charity ever pushed and annoyed you to the point that you've cut them off?


When do you draw the line at giving? When they've hired a telemarketing company that pesters you, or if they send you too much mail?


"FMF" of Free Money Finance raised the question in a recent post called "Off my giving list." He stopped giving to a group he had generously supported because a telemarketer who called his house wouldn't take no for an answer.


"FMF" was on the treadmill when he took the call and calmly explained his family's approach to giving: "Any organizations that call us are asked to send us the details of what they are requesting in the mail. Then we can look over the information and take time to decide whether or not to give -- nice and logical like."

But she pressed on -- repeatedly. It proved costly. "I reiterate what I just told her and she says (again) that she understands and we end the call. But that's not the only thing that's ending. My support for this organization is ending as well."


Some readers thought this was overkill; one even called him a jerk. But many made some observations, including:

  • Many charitable organizations contract with telemarketers, and some pay a substantial price, getting only 10% or 15% of the money that's raised. Look into what percentage of your gift would actually support the charity's work before you cut a check. Mrs. Micah explained how.
  • Often giving once to an organization will subject you to repeated calls, even if you tell the outfit to put you on its do-not-call list. (Charities are exempt from the federal Do Not Call list.)
  • Telemarketing is often a tough and thankless job. "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," reader George said. "We were taught to do this regardless of what the person on the other end said."
  • If a telemarketer behaves inappropriately, you should let the charity know.
  • Don't give your credit card number over the phone unless it's an organization you regularly deal with -- and the solicitor can prove it by, say, reciting your history of giving. Or, better yet, ask the caller to mail you payment information.
  • Hold your ground, and don't give in to guilt. That reminds us of another solicitation device: When a charity mails you free address labels or personalized notepads or other useful stuff, do you automatically send a contribution?  (We have a lifetime supply of address labels, and we give the maps of the world from Doctors Without Borders to our neighbor's kid to distribute at the local Boys & Girls Club.)

Trent Hamm at our partner blog The Simple Dollar agreed with FMF's decision to cut the charity off. "I do the same thing. If a telemarketer from a charity interrupts me, I cease giving to them," he wrote. "I am a charitable person, but I value my family time and I don't want it intruded on by some ham-fisted telemarketer."


We think FMF was rather harsh. Here's what we do: We immediatelyy and politely decline to talk to anyone who calls soliciting money, unless it's an organization we regularly support. (Be careful. There are many scammers out there.) If we're interested in giving, we ask them to mail us a follow-up.


Related reading:

Published Sept. 30, 2009

Feb 20, 2012 9:29PM

I have worked in the telemarketing industry for nearlt 20 years and I have 1 thing to say about it. NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM A TELEMARKETER THAT CALLS UNSOLISITED AND NEVER BUY ANYTHING ON THE PHONE FROM A COMPANY THAT SAYS "BUT WAIT THERES MORE".


Feb 20, 2012 8:02PM
I have cut several charities off this past year due to telephone calls and/or the gobs of address labels, calendars, notepads, and even coins intended to guilt me into giving.  I have killed one shredder with the stupid address labels, and since I notice the only difference for some is a box number at the same mass mailing facility, I get rid of several at a time sometimes.  I have increased giving to the fewer number of charities that don't insult my intelligence or violate my home with their calls.  The net is that deserving charities are getting more from me, and the 'con' operations are getting zip.
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