Thursday 12th August

Well, apparently, I was wrong.

A career as a Telephone Fundraiser does not require a diplomatic, tactful and warmly persuasive personality. What it actually requires is for you to leave your morals at the door along with any erroneous belief that sweat shops are the troubling concern of a land far, far away.

After the first break of the day our trainer happily commented that it was unusual for the whole group to return, she went on to explain that normally, when people find out what the five pound an hour job requires, they, not to put too fine a point on it, do one.

During my day of training, I was trained in the art of saying basically, whatever the hell was necessary to get punters to commit to a monthly direct debit and as the agency for whom I was working get paid on what is known as a ‘cost per acquisition’ basis (they turned over £18m last year!), this means that they, as a company, get a lovely financial benefit every time one of the mugs, sorry supporters, finally get exhausted with the don’t take no for an answer company policy and cough up.

If one of the ‘prospects’ (yes folks, that’s what they call you) targeted for a telephone mugging, happen to ask any awkward questions or make some other futile attempt to wriggle off the hook, with feeble excuses like having no money or being of pension age, we were told to make agreeing noises and then rebuild our case. In other words crank the guilt pressure up a notch. As very few people are prepared to admit that they consider their problems, however bad they may actually be, worse than disease, famine and poverty this strategy is unsurprisingly, pretty effective.

I was also trained to understand that as employees, in terms of importance, we ranked right up there with a hole punch and that failure to achieve our Mugging Target would result in dismissal. We also discovered that being a minute late for work would lead to our measly, minimum wage pay being docked by up to half an hour.

When I got home I shot upstairs, threw my clothes into a bin bag and hurled myself into a scalding shower complete with disinfectant and a scrubbing brush. Whilst I may be able to eradicate the external memories of that appalling day, I am afraid that the disgust and repulsion at the activities of telephone fundraising agencies, and perhaps more troublingly the implied complicity of the charities that they represent, will be with me forever.

Still, I suppose charity is big business these days. Perhaps it is unsurprising that these grubby little opportunists have latched onto the concept. Masquerading as philanthropic organisations that increase funds raised for good causes, these privately owned companies are, in actual fact, employing the same grubby, used-car-salesman tactics that have been adopted by conmen from time immemorial.

Only this time they are selling the solution to suffering and are backing themselves up with the powerful branding of the righteous.  

At the risk, once again, of pointing out the obvious; the engine behind the fantastic achievements of most charities are volunteers who tirelessly give of their time and experience to help those less fortunate. Why are we condoning, if not actually encouraging, these greedy, self serving limited companies, (limited in both ethics and conscience) to weasel themselves into the equation?

So, here’s a word to the wise; if you want to donate to a charity, make sure it is the charity who is directly benefiting and that your hard-earned is not in reality being used to fund a shortage of swimming pools, Bentleys and diamond studded mobiles amongst the increasing proliferation of greedy and unscrupulous intermediaries.

Just giving? Don’t make me laugh.

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5 thoughts on “Thursday 12th August

  1. abso-bloody-lutely… I think your comments today are being echoed throughout the land.
    we have for too long been attacked by ” chuggers” in our high streets and abused on the telephone by these parasites in our homes.
    hope the scrubbing worked…. if not, you could always become a nun and ask for forgiveness.
    another delightful topic covered in your usual wonderful way.
    thanks for being a part of my day.
    Bobby
    xxx

    • It really is disgusting that so many private companies are exploiting the goodwill of donors under the guise of ‘fundraising’. The company for whom I was supposed to be working turned over £18m last year? A revenue figure that would surely make a Columbian drug lord blush.

  2. A couple of months back I got 12 calls in a fortnight from agencies canvassing on behalf of charities. The first couple of callers I was polite but firm to and explained we have a family policy not to sign up to anything solicited by this method. The last few callers however, experienced ‘Mrs Angry’ as I told them in no uncertain terms where they could get off. It’s apparent as soon as they come on the phone that they are trained personnel and I completely object to the guilt trips they try to invoke on behalf of the charities they should be serving.

    • Hi Pauline,

      I agree entirely. I have no issue with donating to charities, my issue is with these private companies that are jumping on the bandwagon to generate their own revenues. These businesses wouldn’t make a penny if they weren’t exploiting the fundraising process. I really, really want to urge people to give direct to their charity of choice, don’t use donation web based portals, don’t set up direct debits with telephone fundraisers – go to your charity’s website and do it there.

      Thank you for your comment, I’m half tempted to start some kind of campaign. Having said that, disorganised is my middle name so……………………………….!!!

      • What I’m not clear about is, are these agencies employed by the charities to do the fundraising for them, or are they working separately, taking a cut, then forwarding the rest onto the charities?

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