Wise Giving Wednesday: Dialing for Dollars

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calendar icon Jul 17, 2020

From time to time, the majority of us will receive phone calls at home requesting contributions. Although the most common reaction is to hang up, the reality is that telemarketing continues to serve as a means of raising funds for a variety of causes.  This development approach works best when the charity is contacting previous donors or individuals that have an established relationship with the charity such as a college soliciting alumni. In those cases, the caller might encourage a gift or propose a larger sum be donated than was contemplated. 

In contrast, charities or their fundraising representatives make “cold calls” to a broad audience generally to acquire new donors. Such an approach can result in a low rate of return and can end up creating circumstances where the charity receives a very small percentage of the total amount raised.  It’s reasonable for charities to do acquisition telemarketing if it is only one of many other successful and less expensive means of fundraising such as from direct mail, bequests, corporate gifts, events and others. Having a diverse fundraising program will help a keep the overall cost to raise a dollar lower than if a charity only used telemarketing. 

Its also important that a charity that uses an outside telemarketing firm get to keep the names and addresses of new donors acquired.  By getting the names and addresses of acquired donors, a charity can use a less expensive means to solicit those donors in the future. 

BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to help donors decide how best to handle phone requests for contributions: 

  • Ask if the charity raises funds from means other than telemarketing
  • Ask if the caller is from an outside telemarketing firm or the charity itself.  If the caller is from an outside firm then ask if the charity will get to keep the name and address when donations are made.
  • Resist pressure to make an “on the spot’ donation decision. Legitimate charities will welcome your gift at another time.
  • Get the name straight as some organizations raising money have similar sounding names, sometimes intentionally.
  • If interested, you can always ask the caller to send you written information or provide the website address of the charity so you can check them out later.
  • Visit Give.org to see if there is a report on the charity or request that one be developed. 

Remember that having your phone number listed with the government’s “Do Not Call Registry” does not apply to charity calls.  However, you can ask the telemarketer not to call again on behalf of a particular charity.

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide the following video that features Robin Perkins, Director of Marketing and Communications for  EarthShare (a BBB Accredited Charity) which annually helps hundreds of thousands of individuals connect with environmental and conservation charities. Among other things, they assist a number of workplace giving campaigns.   

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include: 

Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.  

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance

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