Friday, August 10, 2007

Sweet Charity

Chesca from Skindiving recently awarded me this button:

I am very proud to have received it. I haven't been doing much lately and that's been making me kind of feel bad. I naturally want to throw out an excuse like, "I've been so busy" or "we're really broke." But that goes against my main belief about charity - which is that we all have something to give. I can make time and I will.

However, I also believe that being a good philanthropist means knowing your stuff. It means not falling for the lies of people who prey on helpful souls. Even in the wake of tragedy, there are always people looking to make a sucker out of a good, honest person.

That's why it is so important that charities' volunteers know their stuff as well.

When I was home last week, I was very busy on the computer cleaning the house when the phone rang.

I looked at the caller ID:


I thought it might be the bill collection place that calls here a couple times a week and leaves messages. I’m pretty sure they’re calling for the guy who used to have our number and wanted to tell them to QUIT CALLING, so I answered the phone.

“Hi Ms. H. This is _____ calling on behalf of police officers in the Minneapolis area. Blah blah blah for two full minutes I can’t let you get a word in or you’ll tell me no so I’m just going to keep talking and not even use punctuation because that would give you the opportunity to shoot me down Our tax refundable donations start at just twenty five dollars but you can be a Gold donor for only thirty so how much may I put you down for Ms. H?”

“Do you have a website?”

“Uh. Um. Well. I…don’ t know what it is.”

“Really? Well, why don’t you call me back when you have that information, okay?”

“Well, ma’am, we can take your donation right over the phone.”

“So…you are calling me and telling me that you are Someone, collecting for Something and I’m just supposed to take your word for it and give you my credit card number - even though you don’t even know the website of the company you are representing?”

“Well, it’s just that I’m talking to YOU right now and…I can get someone to verify this for you…”

“You can get someone else there with you to tell me what you just told me? Impressive.”

“Well, they’re my supervisor…”

“Honey, I am BUSY. Why don’t you get that information and give me a call back when you have it, okay?”

“That sounds fair, ma’am. Thank you.”

Asking for donations is a lot like selling things. Really, you are selling your organization. I wouldn’t buy something from someone who didn’t have any information on their product. I also don’t buy things from telemarketers. Charities need to figure some of these things out if they plan to *sell themselves* to the future generations. Because we're smart, suspicious and critical.

And calling me "ma’am" repeatedly just makes me mad.


Brillig said...

Hahaha. I love it. I generally just hang up on people. I like your approach a lot better.

So... is "Mrs. Lame" better than "ma'am"? ;-)

hello insomnia said...

Good move. I never thought of asking for a website. I don't give donations over the phone. I do put the phone to Nathan's bleating, crying mouth. That always works.

Kristina said...

I hate "ma'am" repeatedly too.

It makes me feel old. "Damn it, I'm still a Miss!" haha

Worker Mommy said...

I love the way you ended this.

Ma'am doesn't make me sad. Not anymore anyway. But maybe that's because I'm older than dirt. Naw, that's not it I guess I just see it as being polite so no biggie.

Congrats on the award. Well deserved!

Butrfly4404 said...

I generally hang up on them, too. This one was very quick. hahah. The Nathan tactic gives me an idea, though...maybe next time, I'll just let Sunshine answer. :)

While I WOULD prefer Miss to Ma'am, I don't usually get pissed off unless they use it REPEATEDLY. And it was from a woman. I don't know, it would probably seem different if it were from a man. But the repeatedness of it made it seem more like "Hey, Old Lady!" than polite. :D

Jodi said...

I hear ya about the scam charities, that is soooo low and just downright evil. That was smart thinking to ask for the website. I have never thought of that before.

I LOVE to be called Ma'am though. When I worked at UHC I loved it when people from Texas, men or women, called because they ALWAYS called me Ma'am and it just makes me happy.

Whiskeymarie said...

I am o.k. with Ma'am when someone older than me is saying it.
Not o.k. when it's someone younger.
Not sure why...

Congrats on the award!

Virtualsprite said...

What a great way to deal with those lowlife scam charities. I will have to remember that.

I'm with you on the "ma'am" thing, too. I hate that!

Butrfly4404 said...

Hey guys! I've been getting A LOT of search hits for this number, so I thought I'd update everyone:

Miss I Don't Need To Breathe Just Give Me Your Money never did call me back.

A friend of mine read this post and left a comment on my myspace that says:
"That was on the news awhile back...supposedly they never make a claim that they are the agency (MN police, etc.) but more or less fly by the statement and many assume they ARE the MN police. Whatever is donated, only a VERY SMALL portion actually goes to the police and they pocket the rest."

Carla said...

I usually say I'm just the babysitter. Congrats on the award!

Brillig said...

Wow... very interesting update. Ick. It makes me never want to answer the phone.

moosh in indy. said...

I always hang up on those people. Always.

Goldy said...

Maam... I have some swampland in Florida...

Karen said...

Congratulations on the award.
Talk about being "too busy" ...I am guilty...

Forgive the lateness...
THANK YOU for leaving a comment on "Remembering Paeng"

(sister of ex-skindiver)

Kelly said...

lol...I always just use the "I don't do business over the phone" line. You say it about 20 or 30 times and they get the point. And for some reason I get taken off of their lists...

exskindiver said...

"And calling me "ma’am" repeatedly just makes me mad."

(laughing...wiping the tears from my eyes...)

Cherann said...

I don't trust any stranger that calls me. I'm one of those people that believes the worst about all callers unless I'm the one doing the calling.

Jenn in Holland said...

One of the things I absolutely do not miss about life in the USA--telemarketers! Ugh.

Johnny said...

I completely understand what you mean about being called "ma'am" repeatedly. While some people might see nothing wrong with it, and wonder why it would upset you, others are keenly aware that when people use "ma'am" or "sir" repeatedly, what they really mean to say is "upidity know-it-all *expletive removed*." That's why whenever I am in that situation, I try to get a name to use instead, and try to avoid using ma'am or sir more then once in a conversation.

I just received a call similar to yours, actually, and came across your blog while trying to google the info the telemarketer couldn't provide me: 1) Why I would want to donate to a police charity that wasn't even in my state, and 2) their federal tax ID number that could be used to verify their non-profit status. When I asked for the second of these (EVERY charity worker should have this number accessable if they are going to ask for ANY kind of donation) not even his supervisor knew it, and instead told me all that sort of info would be included in a thank you letter I would get in the mail in a few weeks. "After I give you my credit card info though?" "Yes" "So I have to give you money now, but you won't verify to me who you are until 2-3 weeks from now?" "Um... yes." If this is how the Minn PD plan on supporting themselves, they are gonna be chasing criminals on mopeds and packing rubberband guns pretty quick.

Butrfly4404 said...

Hey, Johnny! Thanks for leaving a comment! I get a lot of hits from people searching for that number. I'm glad I have a little 'backup' to help them realize it is a scam.

And, NO, we don't make our officers support themselves through charity (Unless you count my high taxes as charity. haha) These people are frauds.