A few weeks ago, I made a donation to a charity.
It wasn’t a huge amount; just a text-based donation in response to an appeal on the back of a toilet door. Yes, really – I find myself becoming inspired to do good things in the most salubrious of settings.
I’m guessing you have similar campaigns in the U.S.? Companies are invited to advertise on the inside of the restroom doors in service stations. They literally have a captive audience.
Anyway, this campaign was to send ‘feminine hygiene products’ to young women in Africa. We in the west take access to such basic products for granted – the least I could do was send a few quid over via sms.
Having donated via my smartphone before, I was wise to the way in which charity text campaigns work. I wanted to just provide a one-off donation and not be bugged by a series of texts so, reading the small print, I quickly fired off the ‘STOP’ message immediately after making the donation.
That was that. I forgot all about it and got back on with my business.
Now, those of you who read my musings here at America Out Loud regularly will know I’ve been a bit poorly. I wrote about my illness in last week’s column. What you won’t know is that the ‘virus’ (thanks for that wonderfully specific diagnosis, Doc!) continued to hammer me through this week as well. So, I cancelled all that I could and, for a couple of days where my razor-blade-throat was raging, I screened my calls to save my voice.
When the London area number first popped up on my screen, I hit the ignore key and snoozed a bit more. A few minutes later, the same number called again. And again. And again.
Eventually, I switched off my phone.
Yesterday, it started once more. I ignored again the first few times, but this caller clearly wanted to talk to me about something. Talk about relentless! Eventually, I handed the phone to my wife and asked her to answer on my behalf while I gargled with more honey and lemon and generally tried to save my throat.
By now, you’ve probably guessed. It was the charity.
Here’s the thing… when I sent that ‘STOP’ text, I really did assume I was escaping further contact. I’ve been burnt before, when the call centre kept ringing to say ‘thank you’ for the donation and (obligatory eye roll here) to ‘update me’ on the work they’ve been doing since. I wasn’t born yesterday. They’re really calling to try to extract more cash from me for their ever-so-important causes.
And they ARE important. I get it.
If I wanted to give a regular donation (as my wife and I do for a number of charitable concerns), I would have done exactly that. The absolute last thing I want from a charity is to be treated in much the same way a stereotypical 80s salesman might treat a warm lead.
I don’t want someone trying to ‘upsell me’ from a one off donation to a monthly direct debit – even if it is only the same amount as a couple of Starbucks’ cappuccinos.
Over here in Blighty, we’ve just gone through GDPR legislation, which is designed to stop people being spammed with unwanted email messages. You’d think the same might apply to phone calls or, at least, that asking NOT to be contacted by text might be an indication that I don’t want to be contacted by telephone either, despite the convenience of said charity now having my mobile phone number.
Now, my wife being the lovely, polite soul that she is, instead of telling them, firmly and politely, to go away, explained that I was ill and asked them to call back some other time.
This morning, the phone rang AGAIN from that same number. This time, I was just dashing out to meet one of my coaching clients (first proper day out since the dreaded ‘lurgy’ struck – yay! Go me!) so couldn’t take the call.
Next time they call – and they will – I really need to answer and explain that this kind of approach really puts me off making a donation. I’m pretty sure I’d do more if I could be left alone to be all altruistic in peace, instead of the seemingly constant sleeve tugging.
Is it just me? Surely, I must be in the minority to feel this way, or charities wouldn’t employ these tactics, would they?
One thing’s for sure: I’ll be very careful about the methods I use to donate in future, AND, if they really are just calling to say ‘thank you’ with no hidden agenda, I won’t be donating to that particular cause again anyway… I’d much rather all that cash went to where it’s needed most, rather than on telephone bills resulting from countless unwarranted ‘thank you’ calls.
Until next time,