CONFESSIONS OF A FUNDRAISER

 

You would think the job of fundraising would be rewarding. Step into the dark side of nonprofits in this exposé.

IT STARTS WITH A WHITE LIE

For years, I have been an expert in the field of telemarketing. I’m call-center certified, meaning I can successfully manage any level of a telemarketing or outsourcing company.

I started out working in customer service for accounts like Intel, Apple, Adobe, Siemens, DirecTV and many others. Eventually, I got into cold calls.

Cold calling makes the best money out of all phone service positions. That is, if you’re any good at it. If you’re terrible, you’ll go broke within a week. I was fortunate enough to be successful on the phone.

In 2011, I got into fundraising full time for a company that held several dozen major accounts including: March of Dimes, OxFam America, Amnesty International, NPR, PBS, The Metropolitan Museum of the Arts, OMSI, the New York Symphony Orchestra and dozens of others. All of them were recognizable, major non-profit organizations. And every one of them encourage ‘the white lie’.

What is ‘the white lie’? That’s simple. The white lie is a script that is unique for every account but set up virtually the same. It’s a set message designed to coerce the listener into giving you money. Money that is almost entirely spent on more fundraising. Here’s how it works:

Remember that time you went to Walmart and some cute kid or group of people were outside asking for money to help refugees or save the whales or whatever? Remember that raffle you entered? Win a bicycle or a trip to Vegas? You wrote down your name, address, phone, email, blood type, social and birthweight on there. And you’ve signed your own non-profit harassment/extortion contact.

In the eyes of the non-profit, you’ve just registered as a member. That 0.78¢ you gave just paid a company to register you into a telemarketing database where you will be called 3 times a day, mailed out flyers weekly and get endless emails.

We always say we’re calling to renew your membership. There usually is a spot on the form that says something like: if you were to donate again, how much would you donate?

That amount (or the amount you donated, if it was substantial) now becomes the ‘ask’ amount that follows a 40-second speed-read statement that was written by some guy at the charity who doesn’t form sentences well.

Imagine getting a phone call about little girls in Africa getting subjected to so-called ‘virginity tests’ and for only $500 you can save them all. Now, imagine hearing this crap several times a day, every day until you freak out.

A VICIOUS CYCLE

The money you donate to charity generally goes to more fundraising. A lot of charities claim small percentages go to fundraising, but the reality is: they don’t have to claim the telemarketing as part of their cost.

Instead, they only account for whatever profits are received from the telemarketer. The only money they say they spent on fundraising is what they spent on tv & internet commercials, magazine ads and the paper mail, etc. The fact is that up to 50% of money donated to charity through a telemarketer on the phone is kept by the telemarketers.

Most for-profit call centers charge around $35/hr per person in the building related to an account, plus a lump processing fee for paying HR & Executives. If there’s 5 callers, 2 asst. mgrs. and 1 manager they get $280+/hr for every hour on that account.

Example: the DirecTV account had 350 employees @ $35/hr, averaging 6.5 hrs/day, 7-days/wk. It was about $80k/day to keep DirecTV customer support running. That’s $560,000/wk. Let’s look at some fundraising numbers.

NUMBERS DON’T LIE FUNDRAISERS DO

Have you ever watched PBS during a telethon? That number you call? That’s not PBS, it’s the telemarketers and they’re taking their cut when you call. My first month as a fundraiser, I made $2500. By the second month, I was making $1000/wk plus bonuses. All that money came from you. And there were 54 of us making somewhere between $1800-$4000/mo as fundraisers. Then there were our managers, the scriptwriting team, the inbound team for taking car donations for NPR (yes, even when you donate a vehicle a telemarketer gets paid), the adminstrative staff, the HR staff, the executives and, the most cherished group in the company: the prospectors.

We’re talking millions and millions and millions of dollars from charity donations all disappearing before it’s even really accounted for. Every commercial in PBS or NPR is really just a trick to sucker you into calling and giving away your money.

I would call old ladies on fixed incomes and badger them until they cried just to get a $10 dollar increase in her per month donation. I was so good at it that I could raise tens of thousands of dollars per day.

This isn’t just World Wildlife Fund or the Met, either. This is all rescue missions like the Bay Area Rescue Mission and all associations like Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation among many others that give scholarships. Imagine knowing half of that money, which could have went to the education of an underprivileged student, went to a telemarketer instead!

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

By the time I realized what I was really a part of, it was too late to fix it. The entire system behind nonprofits is as corrupt as the liberals who profit from it through shell corporations.

Our telemarketing company called you under the charity name, employed us under the telemarketing name and paid us from a third company that was a ‘temp agency’ which actually was our HR department. The same woman from that ‘company’ that cut our checks also trained us to do our job under in telemarketing company and was the head trainer.

LEAVE A MESSAGE AFTER THE BEEP

The moral of this story for me has been this: If you have extra money or time, find a local family in need and help them directly. If you’re not sure where to find a family in need, you can always go to a church or homeless shelter and they’ll certainly be able to find someone who could benefit directly from your assistance. You can change the world from home by making it better for those around you, instead of pouring money into a greed machine. Thanks for reading.

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