How do I know if the person calling me
is a PROFESSIONAL FUNDRAISER?


The simple answer is that everyone who calls you you is a professional fundraiser. Even if they don’t work for a third party professional fundraiser they are a professional fundraiser working for the charity. They are NOT part of the charity. They are employed by the charity. A professional telemarketing fundrasier is either a professional employed by the charity or employed by a company which is employed by the charity. Neither are members of the charity or a part of the charity. Employees of charities sometimes refer to the charity with proprietary terms such as 'we' and 'us' and 'our' but the fact is anyone being paid is not a member of the charity. They are no more a part of the charity than you are. It is just their profound ignorance of organisational structure and the non-profit sector which enables them to make such false claims. And there is an even more significant difference in that you probably don’t risk harming the charity by dishonestly & unethically representing it whereas they do - in this and many other ways. They are employed in a professional capacity.* If you want to maximize your contribution to the charity you need to be up to speed with the tricky self-serving  games these people play. If they present a raffle you can immediately know that MOST of your money is going to pay for prizes and other costs such as all the other calls made during the campaign including the wasted cold calls and repeatedly calling people who aren't available, the reminder calls and letters and all the administration of the raffle which could include the wages of senior executives of charities who have very little to do with the raffle. And the mass of postage sent out including the mail sent because agreeing to have a pledge letter sent out is all some people can do to get rid of a persistent telemarketer. Our reports from within the industry give figures of 30% to 50% (if they are lucky) of posted pledges being returned paid. With a raffle you can be assured that around 60-70% of your money will be spent on all these costs and that applies even if it is a charity employee calling you. If they ask for donation only  all the above applies except that the return will be slightly better ie minimum of 50%.

DO NOT ask the telemarketer questions about any of the above issues. They are schooled in dealing with "problems" like this and motivated to make money for themselves so they are, to say the least, an extremely unreliable source of information. Apart from the fact that they know almost nothing about what they are calling you for, they make stuff up to get a sale. They will be happy to tell you that all the funds go to the charity to get a sale out of you, but their version of  ALL is what is left over after they have gobbled it up - about a third of your money. 

If you want to deliver all your money to charity and not support the professional fundraising industry with all its waste, inefficiency, gambling, consumerism, unethical business practices and it's underlying cynicism DO NOT deal with ANYONE who calls you over the phone asking for money. This is a one size fits all rule. You don't need to find out whether the person is employed by a charity or another marketing company. It makes no substantial difference. They are NOT the charity in either case. You won't solve the problem by engaging in a donations-only campaign, they are no more then the lesser of several evils. Firstly you need to ask the person to take you off the calling list permanently. Don’t be too confident that this will be done but it's a start at least. A start for you and for all of us - the community, the people -  in taking control of our support of genuine charitable work and taking it out of the hands of the profiteers - the thieves in the temple.

Going forward: NEVER talk to or engage in any way with anyone who calls asking for money for charity.

*The idea that it is a charity itself calling and not a marketing company is not the blessing it will be purported as. The telemarketer will make a big deal about this as if they are the real deal and that you can be relieved that you aren't being approached by one of those nasty telemarketing companies. But the fact is that it doesn’t matter whether it's the charity itself or a third party doing a raffle/lottery/art union. The same prescribed returns apply (whatever they may be in your state - this information is usually not public except in NSW). If a charity does a raffle through it's own employees and it returns say 40%  then that means that 60% does not go to charity. Where does it go? It goes to pay telemarketers and other staff, prizes, mail-outs, printing costs and so on. It doesn't go to fund the charity's charitable work. The only difference is that if a third party is doing it, a portion - presumably a large portion - goes to the business operators as profit. So with a charity there is no profit being delivered. Everything else is the same – ie the various costs and the rules about how much surplus must be collected for the charitable purpose. That would make a big difference surely? No profit must mean a huge saving? Well from what we have seen that is not always the case. We see charities in states other than NSW returning 36% and 38%, less in some instances than they would be permitted if operating in NSW. (We refer to the NSW percentages because they are the only ones enshrined in law - the only point of reference). Some charities have a pretty elaborate organisational structure with senior executives getting salaries of which information is unavailable to the public. It is conceivable that the money earned by entrepreneurs of professional fundraising companies goes to charity executives when the work is done inhouse. This would account for the returns being less than what might be expected. We say of this simply that the raffle consumers or supporters ought to be fully informed about their investment. We repeat fully. Some charities are now producing slick, glossy corporate style self-promotional videos (assisted by advertising and public relations companies) which are as self analytical as totalitarian propaganda, and frankly quite embarrassing - even having the unintended style of parody. They are evidently new to this sort of thing.

Raffles run in-house are still a promotion of gambling. And still a costly, inefficient and undemocratic form of fundraising.