I just got one of those annoying non-profit telemarketer calls for one a police organization charity fundraiser. Except it wasn’t actually from the police department.
I have one of those nifty InfoGlobe Caller ID units in my office, and no caller information was showing…suspicious! I picked up the phone anyway out of curiosity (paraphrased):
Telemarketer: Hi I’m blah blah representing blah blah Police Charity blah blah blah blah help give them training to defend themselves better blah blah… Me: zoning out surfing the web Telemarketer (testily): Hello? Me: Oh, sorry, what were you saying? Telemarketer: Blah blah give them the training blah blah defend themselves blah blah put you down for 50, 30, or 25 dollars? Me: Sorry, I’m not interested. Bye. Telemarketer: We also have lower levels of blah blah blah. You do understand, we’re talking about giving police officers the training to better defend themselves when they’re facing dangers on the streets. Me (always interested in the details): What kind of training? Telemarketer: Uh. Training to better defend themselves. Blah blah blah blah blah. Me: Doesn’t the police department already provide that kind of training? Telemarketer: (pausing momentarily to think) Yes, but we’re…providing additional training so police can better blah blah blah. Me: So if you don’t know what kind of training, what specifically are you doing for them? Are you from the police department? Telemarketer: No, I’m not from the police department, but we do provide training so police can better defend themselves— Me: I’m sorry, but if you can’t tell me what kind of training you’re going to be giving to officers, I’m not giving you any money. Thank you. Good bye. Telemarketer: I don’t know what kind of training it is, but if you could hold on I’ll get— Me: ** CLICK **
I felt fully justified on hanging up on the guy…usually I let them finish their script. That’s because I sometimes imaginibe someone on the other end doing a thankless job trying to make ends meet so they can feed their kids; you can sometimes hear the quiet desperation in the tone of their voice. Sometimes the telemarketer is actually in a good mood, and it’s fun to banter with them. This guy, however, sounded pro.
Now, it’s one thing when the local police department calls me themselves to say that they need some support—I’m there! But I have a distrust of people on the phone who claim to be representing my police department. I have a big problem with telemarketers who block their Caller-ID—a legitimate business or charity has no problem telling you who they are. And it really ticks me off if someone is trying to play on my good will toward police officers to make a quick buck.
It’s true that some organizations hire professional fundraising services to handle the administrative burden…I have no problem with that. However, only a percentage of the donations go to the actual charity; this post on BoingBoing says that this could be as little as 15%. There is also a history of fraud with firefighter and police fundraising, so I no longer donate to any of these organizations. I tell them to have the charity contact me directly.
It’s good defensive reading to visit the Federal Trade Commission’s warnings about charity organizations. The Attorney General’s office also has a similar page. Not every charity that calls you on the phone is a con out to take your money, but be alert.