I’ve had two experiences in the last week that have made me think hard about the way I donate to charities.
The first followed a donation I made a few weeks back while watching an advert on the TV. The voiceover urged me to make a one-off, £3 donation to the charity by text that would buy a gift for a beneficiary.
I loved this method. I find texting much easier than picking up the phone or visiting a website. The donation amount requested was small, and it equated to an actual gift – so I felt my money would end up contributing something, that it was a one-off, and that I wasn’t being asked to commit to something more long term.
So I was surprised when I received a phone call out of the blue from a London-based number (not from an 0800 number that might have stopped me from picking up) a few weeks later. The caller was pleasant enough and explained she was just finding out if I could Gift-Aid the donation, but I was continuously badgered over the next five minutes to commit to donating each month. I explained I wasn’t interested, but she persisted, using a script she had in front of her. I know this because once or twice she apologised for getting a word wrong and would start her sentence again, which made her ‘thanks for donating’ feel particularly disingenuous.
Once she’d finally got the message, they then asked if I wanted to make another one-off donation. I explained that I was happy with the donation I’d made, and that I already supported other charities so felt I wasn’t in a position to give any more at this time.
I ended the phone call feeling angry and guilty at the same time. I was made to feel my donation hadn’t been enough, though it’s all I feel I’m able to give.
It’s a shame, as had I watched the advert again, prior to this phone call, I would have donated again. I think they need to rethink the way they ask about Gift Aid – a follow-up text would have been more appropriate, though I’m not sure that’s possible.
Now, I’m afraid, I’ll never donate to that charity again and would worry about donating by text in future in case this kind of thing was to happen again.
The second incident happened while I was at home last night. A knock on the door at about 7.15pm revealed a fundraiser collecting for a big charity. I was surprised as I’ve never had a door-to-door collector visit my house before and I felt ambushed. He was perfectly polite and friendly, but I hated the whole experience. I didn’t feel comfortable and felt trapped because I couldn’t escape without shutting the door in his face and being rude. I was also caught off guard, as I’d not expected him so didn’t have a handy excuse prepared. For the first time I realised how much easier it actually is to avoid chuggers on the street.
Twenty minutes later I’d committed to a monthly donation, but I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up for. I was uncomfortable handing out my personal details and bank account information, though his credentials appeared genuine. I felt guilty for suspecting him and angry that I couldn’t double check about him with the charity because it was out of hours, and I didn’t want to offend him in case he was the real deal.
I appreciate it is necessary for charities to fundraise actively, but my experiences with these two have left a sour taste in my mouth, and I can’t see myself donating again to the first one, or keeping on donating for or much longer to the second.