The donation dilemma 250



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I always felt terrible when I answered our phone and said, “Sorry, we aren’t donating in response to telephone calls anymore”.

The truth is, when both my wife and I were working full time and had high disposable income, we almost always donated to the many different organisations whose reps called. We never kept a track on how much we donated. It was a bit like bees to honey – it seemed that the more we gave, the more we were called; by the same organisations, month in and month out.

Was there a grape vine that linked all charitable organisations which, once one had donated, raised a green flag for all the others? It sure seemed that way. We became inundated with callers with the worst weeks having seven or more charitable calls.

Add to that the scam callers, you know, the calls purportedly from the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Federal Police, Microsoft Technical Department, and people trying to sell us a solar electricity system and it became too much.

The dozens of calls eventually killed the golden goose.

We made a decision never to answer our land line. Anyone who called could leave a message if they wished and we would call back if we wanted to. It worked very well, although we occasionally forget to ignore the phone and answered. Most times it was a request for money.

If we didn’t need our phone for ADSL internet connection, we’d cancel it.

The dilemma with phone calls is that if you provide your credit card details, you may be playing into the hands of a fraudster as they are known to call representing charitable organisations in order to get your details.

If you don’t donate, organisations with a genuine need miss out.

Many charities would call us in the Northern Territory to donate to a charity that only provided services to people in their state. We still donated, but we often wondered why we would support a charity that was peculiar to one state – not ours.

How did we solve this dilemma?

As a result, my wife and I have chosen several charitable organisations to whom we now regularly donate. One is a medical research fund which we chose because the innovations and discoveries they make will benefit not only people who live in the Northern Territory or some other Australian state, but everyone on the planet.

An ex-serviceman, I always donate to the Returned Services League and there are several others on our list.

We donate by accessing the internet sites of the relevant charities. The sites have secure transaction systems and we know where our money is going.

The point is, we are now on much lower fixed incomes so we need more control over the amount we are donating, to whom, and how often We have also eliminated the risk of providing credit card details to criminals and we aren’t getting any more calls.

The grape vine that worked so well between charitable organisations has also spread the word – don’t call the Henrys because they have stopped donating. That suits us fine, being able to control our own affairs much more closely.

Do you donate? How do you monitor the amount, frequency and charities to whom you donate?

Robin Henry

Robin is a retired adult educator, and human resources specialist with a background in the Air Force and Policing. He lives at Alice Springs in the Territory, but spends much of his time travelling. He is a prolific writer and runs several blogs.

  1. We are in the same boat. When we both worked donating was fine. It’s not now. Then there are the calls which, when you answer have some voice machine say “Sorry, no one is available to take your call” Well. WTF did you ring me? Shift workers have to leave the phone off the hook to get some sleep.

    1 REPLY
    • I reckon we could all dine out many times on weird and wonderful stories about getting those calls. Picking up the receiver and hearing a silence and eventual chatter usually indicates the call is generated by a computer and mostly from overseas. Maybe I’m just rude or it might be my advancing years that makes me a little cranky and hard of hearing, but , I can safely bet I won’t be able to understand the little voice from across the other side of the world, and it won’t be because of the distance. I have a little problem with all of this because I have friends and family who live overseas, so hanging up before I hear that voice is not a good idea for keeping the peace within the nest.

  2. #1. You don’t need a landline for ADSL. Google ADSL NAKED If your Internet service provider doesn’t support it find one that does. #2. They can also provide you with a VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) landline type connection with a TOTALLY UNREGISTERED Private number. #3. Do NOT contract with anyone over the phone FULL STOP unless YOU have innitiated the call/interaction. Common sense prevails.

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    • ”TOTALLY UNREGISTERED Private number” ?

      I’m guessing robo-callers don’t bother with names and addresses, then just auto-increment/add 1 to the next number to dial, and when a real person answers, it stores that in its database of live numbers to call back.

      You can notice this if you answer a call and it hangs up a few seconds later – that may be a robo-caller just adding you to its database to call in future.

      My home phone rings every day around the same time – I check the display – if it starts with 028 I don’t pick up – it’s usually asking for money – except for one friend who said ‘why don’t you answer ?’ – she had a 028 prefix – but she can call our mobile.

  3. We will be facing the same problem in a couple of years because I know that the regular monthly donations I make now we will no longer be able to afford. But even now we are getting calls thanking us for our contribution but can’t we give more!!

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    • I get sick of that too.

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      • Yes same here. I donate to a lot of charities through direct debit monthly. When they ask for even more money, I tell them that I will stop giving to them altogether. Unfortunately we need our landline because we have no mobile phone coverage.

  4. i had a prepresentative from Médecins Sans (a commendable organisation) turned up on my door step one night and wanting my banking details to set a direct debit for a regular donation.This guy was a foreigner (could be overseas tommorow) and was quite pissed off when i refused his request it was ‘nt that i could’nt afford it .It was the presumtion i would give personal information to a complete stranger

  5. I can relate to this – sometimes we get 3 such calls a day. They always begin by thanking us for our previous donation. We now have the charities which we have selected to donate to automatically deducted each month. Pest controllers and carpet cleaners also ring often.

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  6. Same boat as the rest of you but i just politely decline and tell the caller i am already supporting a few charitable organizations but i will not cut my landline phone. My neighbour’s cottoneaster did that.

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  7. I never donate to a charity that telephones us. In many of those cases the amount the actual charity gets is less than 5 cents in the dollar. Most of each dollar donated going to the call centre and marketing people. I donate to local organisations working in my community mainly.

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    • Not every charity uses an agency (external call centre). Those who do their own calling get considerably more in the dollar as expenses are much lower and they usually don’t pay commissions. A direct mail campaign will be lucky to get a 1% return so telephone fund raising, to a great degree, is the only option.

  8. I stopped donating when i heard of the massive pays the people running the charities were getting. Ie Fraser $1000000 a year salary.

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    • This is the reason we do not donate to major charities anymore. CEO’s receiving huge salaries. Found out that uni students sell tickets for Special Olympics , disabled Olympics etc and get commissions.

  9. When the money goes to the intend recipients of their emotional ploys and not to their six figure salaried CEO and commission paid representatives then I’ll begin donating again.

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