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Telemarketing Vampires Suck Out Charity Dollars

Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

Every night across New Zealand Telemarketing Vampires enter our homes fundraising for charities and suck most of the dollars up for themselves.

Soon after six at night the phone goes (They know it is the most likely time I am home)

"Hello Mr. Griffith? How are you today Mr. Griffith"? (Fake friendly – must be selling something)

"Mr. Griffith how would you like to win a free holiday"? (The 'yes' question – getting me to give a positive response)

"Well Mr. Griffith (like if they use my name enough times it makes us friends or something) I am calling about helping disadvantaged children" (The worthy cause hook)

"You would like to help disadvantaged children wouldn't you Mr. Griffith"? (What about disadvantaged parents?)

"Everyone who helps us this week goes into a draw for a free holiday" (the bait)

"So Mr. Griffith you like to help disadvantaged children and you are keen on winning a free holiday"? (Get me saying 'yes' enough times and I might robotically keep saying it when they inevitably get around to asking for money – my money).

"It's very easy Mr. Griffith to help the disadvantaged children by (hanging up the phone) click…disconnected. They are gone for now but they will be back. I have long since given up indulging in any kind of dialog with these home invaders.

Industry guidelines and no-calling lists are not a fix-all for this verbal spam. I don't support the death penalty but if the masses rise up in revolution, I could be persuaded to look the other way while unrepentant telemarketers are 'hung up' from the phone lines.

Epilepsy New Zealand's decision to cut ties with fundraiser the Epilepsy Foundation who make extensive use of telemarketers is sobering reading for generous Kiwis.

In the last three years according to Epilepsy New Zealand, the Epilepsy Foundation gathered $2.82million in donations on their behalf through telemarketing. Approximately $2.1million of this went straight back to the telemarketers. A further $635,000 went to the Epilepsy Foundation to help run their offices. The crumbs left for the frontline work of Epilepsy New Zealand were around $80,000.

Radio New Zealand reports that Heather Newell, publisher of Fundraising New Zealand agreed that these proportions were the industry norm. So there we have it, 2.5 cents in every dollar finding its way to the intended recipients is the norm for the telemarketing industry.

Despite their claims about all the good work they do on behalf of charity and that negative publicity is misguided, it's hard to raise any level of sympathy for these telemarketing vampires who suck out huge amounts of fundraising dollars from the public but only pass on the dregs to the 'real' recipients of the money.

This is the same as a waiter in a restaurant coming over to you with a drink and saying that "the good looking guy at the bar has bought you this lovely cocktail. But before I give it to you I am going to drink 75% of it as my fee for bringing it from the bar to you…..slurp…gulp…..burp…oh and I need to drink another 22.5% as my fee towards the cost of being a waiter and arranging this delivery service…..slurp….burp…..there you go I hope you enjoy the dregs – keep the parasol".

Who expects a cake to be delivered and have the courier driver open it before he gets to you and eat 9.5 of the 10 slices before he hands it over – just for picking it up and delivering it to you?

Most New Zealanders have an inbuilt desire to help others less fortunate than themselves. We also have a trusting nature that the telemarketing vampires find irresistible to exploit. In our relatively rich Western nation we have the means and willingness to give; all they do is present us with an 'easy' opportunity to do it.

My advice to generous kiwis is to take advantage of the internet and research charities you want to give to. Don't be afraid to ring them up and ask what proportion of donations reach the 'frontline' of their charity (they have this information). If you like what you hear then cut out the fat telemarketing middleman and give it directly to the charity of your choice.

It’s a bit like going out to buy a new consumer gadget. Half the pleasure is in deciding what to buy. So if you have a spare $100 to give to excellent charities like Epilepsy New Zealand then take the time and pleasure in deciding who will get $100 of your money and pay it to them directly. That way they will get it all instead of just $2.50.

Practice hitting the 'hang up' button on the phone as soon as you realise it is a telemarketing vampire on the line. Whatever you do don't indulge them in conversation. Like movie vampires they can make you surrender and do things you normally wouldn't. Unlike the fictional movie blood suckers though, the telemarketing Vampires are very real and the money they suck out of us for themselves is very real too.

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