March 21, 2014

Editorial: Telemarketing fundraising tips

Recent news regarding telemarketing fundraising practices has called attention to an important piece of charity-accountability data relating to finances that potential donors should know.

It’s this: Raise your awareness to more than the bottom line of a charity before you decide to contribute.

Intense scrutiny often surrounds the nonprofit sector, including their fundraising practices. While telemarketing can deliver funds year after year, the charities that use them on average retain less than 41.7 percent for the effort, according to the Better Business Bureau.

BBB’s Charity Review Program provides would-be donors with the information they need to know before they give.

Publicly soliciting organizations are held to different standards, which allow them to secure their nonprofit, tax-exempt status through the IRS. Yet, well-meaning organizations can go astray without proper oversight or measurement of their effectiveness.

Here are some helpful hints, compiled by the Better Business Bureau, when it comes to making wise giving decisions:

Don’t succumb to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow … after you’ve had time to do your homework.

Check out the charity carefully. Make sure you feel comfortable with how your money will be spent. Don’t just take the word of someone else; even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse.

Don’t assume that only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause — as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration — is an important factor.

Be sure it’s the right charity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Many phony charities purposefully choose a name that sounds familiar. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.

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