A peek behind the veil……

So, you say you hate telemarketing calls, the ones that seem to come in bunches all day long.  You know it’s those blasted telemarketers because you can see those strange area codes show up on your caller ID one after another, adding up, until eventually there might be fifteen calls from the same area code over a week’s time.  Sure, it’s not always the exact same number but it’s always that same foreign area code from places you know you don’t have any friends or relatives.

Well, as the CEO of one of those firms you love to hate, let me tell you how to make those calls stop.     You may ask yourself why am I telling you how not to receive these calls?   Well, the answer is simple.  At my company at least, we really don’t have any interest in bothering those of you who genuinely don’t want to receive calls on behalf of a favorite charity.   So here is all you need to do to get these calls to stop:

1.      Answer the phone.  Yes, I know it sounds counter-intuitive but if you ignore these calls or just let them go to voicemail, you are inadvertently inviting even more calls.

You see, the telefundraising industry does not generally get your name out of the phone book. Rather, they are provided with your name by an organization you support.  But as a result, there are usually a limited number of supporters to reach to achieve the goals the organization has set for the firm.  Reaching as many of you as possible becomes imperative.   To reach even half of the names provided, often requires attempting that person once or twice a day for as many as  thirty days.  The calls will keep coming until either the campaign runs its course (generally 30 days or so) or until you answer the phone and either pledge a gift or elect not to.

2.     If you also want to avoid receiving calls in the future, by answering the phone and speaking with a live representative, you now can instruct the person who has called you to place your phone number(s) on their “internal” Do Not Call List.  (Non-profit organizations and the telefundraising companies that work on their behalf are exempt from the rules pertaining to the National Do Not Call List so registering on the National list will not prevent you from receiving these calls).

When you request that your name be placed on the company’s internal Do Not Call List and/or the organization’s Do Not Call List, the company and the non-profit are obligated to not call you for five years.

PS – ask politely.  These are human beings making these calls, often young people just trying to earn a meager living or at a firm like mine, genuinely trying to do good work on behalf of important non-profit organizations.  It’s not their fault that you are receiving unwanted calls.  But they have the power to make these calls stop by coding you as someone who wishes to be on the company’s Do Not Call List.  Don’t give them an incentive by attacking them or verbally abusing them to accidentally/on purpose enter your information incorrectly.

Ok, so now you know how to make these calls stop.  But, before you eagerly await your next telemarketing call just so you can tell the firm to leave you the Hell alone, let me ask you to consider one important thing:

If you genuinely support the work of a charity or non-profit organization, a call from a respectful, well informed caller can provide you with your only opportunity to actually interact personally with someone representing that organization.  It is your chance to ask questions (can’t do that when the organization sends you a letter), give your opinions and become better informed about the organization’s work, how they are using your donations, and what their priorities will be going forward.   Organizations find your feedback very valuable so by engaging with a representative, you are doing your favorite charity a lot of good.

That said, if organizations, or people like me, are asking you to actually accept these calls, it’s our responsibility to do a better job of hiring and training callers who are well educated and well spoken.  It’s also imperative that the company employing these representatives allows callers to take their time to really talk with you.  Far too often, telefundraising companies are trying to complete calls as quickly as possible and pressuring callers to move from one call to the next because it saves money.  It’s time everyone recognized that making supporters listen to some stranger read a script in their ear is no fun for anyone.  Having a spirited conversation, on the other hand, can be truly formative.  So, rather than refuse to take these calls, consider simply insisting that your favorite non-profit hire firms committed to informing and cultivating contributors like yourself (even if it costs a little more) and not just those only interested in how fast they can get you to contribute.

FYI – Reputable telephone fundraising firms are precluded by ethical standards from taking as their fees a percentage of the money raised (percentage based fee arrangements are considered by the ATFP, the trade association that works with the telephone fundraising industry as well as the Better Business Bureau as unethical).  Good firms generally charge a fixed fee per call or per hour and report to their clients the results and costs of the calls daily, providing the non-profit with the option to stop their programs any time it is underperforming or becoming too expensive.  Therefore, be aware that press reports detailing the percentage of contributions going to the telephone fundraiser as fees are often misleading and do not accurately reflect the role telefundraising may play in benefiting an organization’s overall fundraising program.

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