Dynamist Blog

The Telemarketing Charity Racket

Using public records, the LAT reports on the appallingly small amount of funds raised through telemarketing that actually go to the charities who hire for-profit fundraisers. Charles Piller and Doug Smith write:

According to a comprehensive review of state records filed over a decade, the problem of paltry returns extends well beyond what has been reported in recent years among benevolent societies for police, firefighters and veterans. It affects charities large and small, well-known and obscure. It spans a range of causes, including child and animal welfare, health research and opposition to drunk driving.

Citizens Against Government Waste, which gets only 6 percent of the money its fundraising contractors collect, is the lead example--though, according to the accompanying online database, not the worst one, even within its category. For some reason (I have my theories), the article didn't single out the equally ironic "consumer advocates" at Public Citizen who actually lost 6 percent on their telemarketing. (And the Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Council For a Livable World, and American Immigration Control make even Public Citizen look efficient.)

I understand the argument that these fundraisers are prospecting for people who will become larger donors over time, but their methods are not only inefficient but annoying and misleading. What we need is a campaign that tells people to do their civic duty and hang up on telemarketers, who degrade life for everyone with a telephone.

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