You sit down for dinner or in front of the TV set – and then your phone rings. Wake up: this is a charity’s calling. And they want your money.
First things first. In general, though sometimes annoying, these charity calls are not a bad thing. You’re given a chance to donate money for a good cause and, in fact, there are a lot of charitable organizations that use your donations to make a real difference in the world. However, your generosity can backfire on you.
Don’t want to fall for the charity scam? Donate your money cautiously. Read what are the biggest issues with donating to charity over the phone.
- Donating under pressure
- Hired telemarketing companies
- Your privacy’s at stake
- Charity scam
- Learn how to donate wisely
Yes, we know. You feel guilty. And it’s only a few dollars. So you reach for your wallet and pay it. Just to end this call as quickly as possible.
Is it understandable? Yes. Is it clever? Definitely not. Just think about it: whenever you buy a car, a new house or just a pizza for your dinner, you always pay your attention to what you really want and how much does it cost. So why to treat charity calls differently?
The „charity call” situation has but one good solution: whenever the caller uses a guilt tactics, just hang up. A legitimate charity will never force you to donate like this.
Another problem arises when charities hire outside companies to do the telemarketing for them. Many large charities (since they need thousands of donors and volunteers) use telemarketing companies – and sometimes even those with questionable techniques.
We cannot lump all telemarketing companies together. On the contrary, some of them are not afraid of forcing you to donate – and then keep most of your money for themself. (You’ll find more information on the Federal Trade Commission website.)
Do you know the saying „No good deed goes unpunished“? Unfortunately, sometimes it’s true. Like when you donate and your name and your phone number will appear on a charity’s list of donors. And here comes the problem.
Since there are also charities that make living of selling these lists to other charities or other third parties. And the result is clear. After donating, you’re flooded with even more incoming telemarketing and charity calls.
It’s not only about charities themself. According to the Federal Trade Commission, sometimes it’s also about scammers who pretend to represent a legitimate charity.
Usually, scammers pose as either agents of legitimate well-known charities or create their own charity name. This can include charities that conduct medical research or support disease sufferers and their families. They may also pose as individuals needing donations for health or other reasons.
As a result, these scams cost you money and also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.
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Fortunately, there are some basic rules to follow if you want to make sure your money go to the right hands. Here they are.
1. Do your research
When considering donating to a certain charity, check it out online. Go to CharityNavigator site and look up the charity you’ve spoken to. By the way: every US charity has a registration number. Ask for it to check it online later.
2. Ask the caller who is he or she working for
Are you speaking to a volunteer, or to a telemarketing company’s employee? Don’t be afraid of asking. And if the call is from a telemarketing company, ask the caller how much of your donation will go to the charity. The law requires that companies tell you. If the caller says he or she does not have that information, then terminate the call.
3. Don’t give money over the phone
Avoid sharing your credit card information or any other kind of personal information over the phone. Since it’s never safe, regardless of who you’re speaking to. If you want to donate money, ask the caller to either send you a letter or tell you their website’s address. Or send a check to your favorite charity or drop it by the charity’s office.
5. Never donate under pressure
Whenever you are put under pressure or made to feel guilty or selfish if you don’t want to donate, better hang up. A legitimate charity will never treat you like this.
… so to give, or not to give?
Charity calls in general are not inherently bad. Since without contributions, most of them wouldn’t survive. However, always be careful when talking your money over the phone. Do make sure you are speaking to a legitimate company or to a volunteer or staff member of the charity. Stay generous, but don’t fall for a scam.