"I'm sick of being fleeced by fund razors. There must be a better way."

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Firstly you might like to ask yourself if professional fundraising presents a problem for you or those around you. Because as negative as we may sound we think that if you strip away the corruption*, the ideal professional fundraising model is not bad. It has a role to play - though it is overused and abused. It's certainly far from great but to be thoroughly fair and broad minded, it's not bad. That is if  you look at it the way it really is. And this is what it really is (or is meant to be):

Raffles and art unions are conducted where, (for the run of the mill kind) you have about a 1:200,000 – 1:600,000 chance of winning a modest prize such as a new middle of the range car and you can outlay as little as $20 or $30 or even $2 if you buy the tickets face to face. Those odds are probably much better than lotto. And a fair bit of your money - up to 30% or 40% or slightly more goes to a charity. Not a bad deal all round. Mind you if your MAIN INTEREST is giving to charity then these professionally run raffles are not a good way of doing it. But if you can't be bothered too much and aren't interested in doing it any better, then these telemarketing raffles are for you. They are likely to be better than any other forms of gambling you invest in. A raffle is a raffle. A fundraising raffle is a raffle. The fundraising raffle has the bonus of directing some of the money to charity. For some peopler if 1% went to charity it would be 1% more than needed for them to enter the raffle. They were designed to attract money from people who aren't motivated  to give, and are practiced upon people who are easily manipulated over the phone and who don't scratch below the surface. Is that you?

In order to assess whether professional fundraising is a problem for you, you will need some information, you will need to know what this thing is. And that is not something you will find out from one of the telemarketers or their supervisors or even a representative from the charity itself should you contact them. With respect, all of those sources may prove to be unreliable, especially the first two mentioned. Some people in the charities themselves are honest even if they have bad news ie that they use professional fundraisers, but some are not so honest. We know this through contacting them about their fundraising and from experiences within the industry.

When you deal with a professional fundraiser you may wish to know how much of your money is going to charity and how much is not going to charity (or perhaps like almost all the telemarketers themselves, you couldn't care less). If you do care you can decide whether the ratios are acceptable to you and whether alternative methods of giving to charity might suit you better.

Finding out about how much of your money is going and is not going to charity is no easy matter. We have been looking into this a fair bit and we can only so far give you a rough idea with respect to two states in Australia. (We are working on that though - we suspect that the 30%-40% in NSW rule will be about  what applies in other states but probably a bit less in those other states. )

A question you may want to ask yourself is: am I happy to sacrifice 60% or 70% of my “donation” for small chance to win a new car?

You also deserve to be fair on yourself and ask yourself if the financial burden placed on you by these telemarketing raffles is acceptable for you both financially and morally. We know that charities in receipt of million$ annually from the govt and having many million$ in their bank accounts still conduct numerous raffles each year and the telemarketers still accept money from people who can't really afford it. The thing is that the telemarketers usually know nothing of this because they aren’t told - and aren't interested anyway. Their supervisors can be just as ignorant. A telemarketer is a simple creature, like a talking parrot. It's pointless to try and engage them in an information sharing conversation.

*So how then has professional fundraising become corrupt? In what ways?

Professional fundraisers are in it for the money. They want to make money and the more they make the more satisfied they are. It's as simple as that. There would be nothing wrong with that if they did the work in an honest, decent way befitting the social values that they ought to represent. Aside from the money, presentations made by professional fundraisers are usually supposed to include the important element of informing the public about the work and worth of the charity. This is very loosely adhered to. There are no commissions for spreading the good news. It's the money that matters and the better performing telemarketers will innovate their own spiel which serves that purpose. And this includes deftly dealing with the doubts and objections raised by supporters. The telemarketer senses what a supporter does and doesn’t want to hear and delivers the answer which will secure the payment. Will the money go to my local area? Are you ringing from a marketing company? How much goes to the charity? You won't keep calling me again and again will you? The sales figures board won't detail how much accurate, truthful public relations information was passed on. The telemarketer will add whatever embellishments get results. Including of course the standard tactic of  impersonating the charitable organisation.

The simple direction of management is to "SELL,SELL, SELL".

The professional fundraisers know that many people have a strong commitment to giving to charity and if they were to fully learn  what's going on ie  that they are not donating, rather they are entering a silly raffle where just a minor portion of the proceeds are going to charity, then many if not the vast majority will not have their preference met.  So the professional fundraisers communicate falsely with prospective donors. They misinform actively and  by omission and by not correcting the misundertandings that supporters may reveal. They have the supporter believe that the raffle is the same as making a donation. If pressed they will create the impression that a minimal amount of their money will be used to cover necessary administrative costs. Management will deliberately under-inform their telemarketing staff about the portion collected for charity so that they can ensure that as little as this information as possible is released. What is by its nature a lite form of fundraising – ie a raffle to attract uncommitted supporters who might only respond to an incentive and wherein actual fundraising is only a minor part of the equation – is presented as if it is primarily and essentially a fundraising activity including at times creating an impression that this raffle might be the major or only form of fundraising that the charity relies on. 

From beggar to Mega

And we need to add here a mention of the so called Mega lotteries. These have the feature of monstrous prizes designed to seduce the socks of the public and draw in “supporters” who are not simply less committed but are outright only interested in winning a prize. These people are gambling, they are not supporting charity. We have come across nothing to indicate that any charity has any concern for the harmful affects of gambling which might play a role with some of these raffle consumers. Some 'supporters' we know of spend around $1000 buying tickets in these extravaganzas. There seems to be a correlation between Mega type raffles and the charities who conduct them being already very well resourced. If a fundraising appeal can't present a compelling need for your dollar then the approach can instead be just to suck money out of the public by seduction. The affect of the mega raffles given the extraordinary drain on the public’s charity dollar is the waste and squandering of valuable resources on costly, inefficient, seductive gambling. These resources are then lost to the charity sector. The waste produced by these Mega raffles runs into the millions per charity. The total amount wasted nationally  is likely to be horrific.

The telemarketer presents gaming enterprises such as raffles as if it were the one and only way you can support the charity they represent. You won't know that they are merely representing the named charity, you will think that it's the charity calling you directly asking for funding such that it makes it easier for them to present the raffle as if there really is no other way of contributing funds. This is totally false and misleading. You can support the charity how you want to, you don’t have to be pressured and manipulated by the telesales representative into accepting their way. Not that you can't proceed that way if you want, but if you accept that giving to charity is a responsibility then part if that responsibility is to be informed. You will have to do that yourself you can't trust the telesales rep to give you an impartial disinterested assessment of the worth of their gambit.

Fact is you have a right to ask the charity to take you off their telemarketing call list. You can then take control of your giving. First decide in a calm considered manner (away from the insincerity and manipulation of the self-serving telemarketer) exactly how much you can and want to give to what charity. Excluding the banal silly raffles will maximise your contribution: it will all go to the charity instead of a fraction of it. Forbid the charity from soliciting you for gambling fundraising. Remind them if you want how irresponsible and unbecoming of them it is to solicit in such a manner and to promote in no small way a gambling culture. Decide how often and how much you want to give then ask them, if it helps you,  to send you a donation form at the appropriate time/s.

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Philanthropy Australia

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