Surely any donation is worth having?......
I’m really intrigued to know what strategies the third sector are using to keep donations flooding in – are you?
The reason? In the last few months I’ve been heavily targeted by charities in order to get me to sign up, sign on or donate regularly – which is something I don’t want to do.
Recently I had a telephone call from someone claiming to be carrying out some research for a charity which has a shop in Swindon and they wanted my feedback on my experience of that establishment. Like an idiot, I answered the questions and then, hardly taking a breath, the young woman asked if I would sign up to £6 a month. When I challenged her that she had misled me initially, she denied this. I refused her offer, only for it to change to £3 a month for a longer period. She then launched into a really long spiel about being a private company which had pledged to raise blah, blah, blah for the charity and this company would be paid a fee of £75,000. That was some time ago and I blogged angrily about it at the time – I hate being cold-called, lied to and then when I say no, completely ignored.
But another local charity was collecting outside my local supermarket over the weekend. I do hate being accosted when I’m shopping and I get fed up when Sainsbury’s and others allowing customers to be hassled when doing a shop. But I can see it’s a legitimate way of fund raising. However, it is a matter of choice whether you give or not and I refuse to feel guilty for choosing not to give. On this occasion I was willing as it was Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
This organisation does fantastic, life-saving work and is deserving of our support. So I got out my purse and asked where I should put my donation of £5. I was then presented with a form and told that they couldn’t take any money today but I could only choose to sign up for a year or for a single donation of about £26.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
How many people coming into or out of the supermarket that day would willing sign up to paying £26 minimum rather than give 50p or £1 or £5? Do they really find enough people who are willing to enter into a long-term commitment to give money to this charity? Is that better than getting people to ‘pay as you go’?
I know the air ambulance is losing a lot of funding shortly and that’s very worrying. But we are all in the same boat here and I believe the third sector should give people every single option when it comes to giving.
For me – I hate this ‘I’m going to make you commit’ approach. I don’t like to feel I’m being managed in this way, especially when it comes to money. As a business person, I ensure that clients or potential clients engage me in a way that suits their budget and cash flow. So some want long-term or medium-term support, others want to pay as you go.
So why didn’t this charity do the same? Many people who are out shopping are doing so on a restricted budget. Food bills have soared in the last couple of years. So I suspect that many shoppers would spare a pound or two, but will flatly refuse to give a much higher sum. Or they will take the paperwork and bin it at the earliest opportunity.
I’d be fascinated to know if this fund raising approach is working – maybe it is and I’m just being churlish. But experience of the third sector has taught me that people give the most when they have had a need, or someone they know has used an important service. That way people then do specific fund-raising events, sign up to a monthly commitment or leave something in a will.
What do you think?
So the hacking saga goes on with resignations and revelations galore – with all other news disappearing out of sight.
It’s a shame that everything hinges around this, even though it is important. It just feels like it completely obliterates other news.
Be aware you won’t get away from it tomorrow – Five Live is covering it all day as is BBC TV to name a few.
I’m interested but, let’s get some perspective. This story appears to be so London-centric – there’s a whole nation out there with things to say.
Here in Swindon, a young girl was buried, a girl who went off the rails through drug addiction, left her family home and years later her remains were found. A man is awaiting trial charged with her murder and that of another Swindon girl, Sian O’Callaghan. I doubt the phone-hacking means much to these two devastated families.
There’s also some good news about you know – in Wiltshire RAF Lyneham is going to be give a new lease of life. The little town of Lyneham was poised for devastation as that magnificent air base was due to close.
It’s a place with many great memories for me – I was lucky enough to be one of many journalists who covered the return of hostages Jacky Mann and Terry Waite to this airbase. I also went up in a Hercules once which circled over Bath, opening the doors so we could take fantastic pictures of the city from the air.
But I bear in mind that other areas on the UK have not been granted this type of reprieve and will see bases near them close. Often the effect of such closures is so overlooked – local economies can literally die overnight.
We’ve raised more than £20m as a nation for the crisis in Africa – astonishing given the economic climate but it shows that many people really do care.
But as for charities, a curious thing happened to me today.
I had a call from a lady representing a national charity, Sue Ryder, reminding me that I’d given a bag of clothes to their shop in Swindon. It was true, several months ago.
Why did I choose that shop? I gave the answer. A couple of other questions – the woman then entered this long spiel about what the charity does and would I consider giving £15 a month?
I said no, I didn’t like cold-calling, I would make my own choices about what charities to support and not to ring again.
I even said I was a journalist and didn’t appreciate being misled with the suggestion this was some sort of survey – when in fact it was a pushy sales call.
But this woman was not daunted, she said if I was strapped for cash, I could put off a donation for a couple of months and could give just £8 a month. I repeated my previous comments.
I told her I had been polite but was now going to end the call – whereupon she spoke really fast giving the name of the private company she worked for which would earn about £72,000 for doing these cold calls but the charity would raise hopefully around £190,000 from this sales push.
Times are tough for charities – but that one call alone put me off this charity – it plays on people’s sympathy and pins them down.
Don’t make me feel obliged, don’t cold call me and never continue the sales pitch
We've raised millions for needy in Africa so far....
when I’ve clearly said I’m not interested.
I do give, I will give and I have given but in my own time, at my own pace, when I feel I want to and can afford to.
A new charity shop has opened in Swindon raising money for children whose families need respite care. Guess where my next charity bag will be going?