What's in a word?
Beware of Behalf!
There has been a recent change in the
presentations made by professional fundraising telemarketers. Many are
now beginning their spiels with, “I am calling on behalf of
xyz charity” . It's a pretty dramatic departure from what has been
the usual approach whereby telemarketers would say, “I am calling from
xyz charity.” In the past call centre mangers have even been known to
use of “on behalf” because it may alert the member of the public to the
caller's third party status. This is to be avoided because it introduces the thorny issue of how much of the
public's money is going to charity and how much is going to a marketing
business and whether it's any of the public's business anyway. It's desirable for the industry to leave in place and
public's ignorance of the process and allow them to think that they
are donating most if not all their money to charity.
Why is it that the same people who bent over
backwards to conceal their role are now making a small concession to
candour? A telemarketing company in NSW was subject to press attention
last year (2013) which uncovered some of the practices that typify the
industry including the one of false identification. Word gets around
and this has likely put the wind up some of the professional
fundraising firms which are sometimes affected by interbreeding.
predictable that this half-way change would take place. Half-way? Meaning
that “calling on behalf of” can be seen as seeming
to do the right thing, yet the cunning of it is that given the
unsophisticated nature of telemarketing consumers coupled with the
trusting nature of the public toward charity, “on behalf of” is not
likely, for practical purposes, to actually give much away. Calling “on
behalf of” to many will just sound like the
person is calling from the charity. While being interviewed by a TV
reporter the owner of the disgraced NSW professional fundraising
company was presented audio evidence of the
false representation made by his telemarketer and responded that
their "normal practice" was to say “calling from (name of the company)
behalf of (name of charity)”. However a hard copy script later exposed
as not true. The point here is that even the owner of this disgraced
professional fundraising outfit admits that the correct procedure is to
disclose the role & relationship of the marketing business with the charity. But
that is not what the professional fundraisers who have adopted the “on
approach are doing. The are leaving out the name of the company.
Experience of the industry indicates that after the initial “on
behalf” introduction, a telemarketer driven by commission may say
anything to manipulate the member of the public into a sale and this
can include misappropriating the identity of the charity e.g.
"we" are doing this and that to make your world a better place.
Fundraising watchers, well aware of the cunning, deceptive and mercenary methods of the industry were confidently
able to predict this development.