What To Do When A Charity Calls


What should you do when you receive a fundraising call from a charity?

Find Out Who’s Calling

The person calling you should promptly introduce him/herself by name and state the full name of the charity they represent.  Depending on the laws in your state, the caller may also tell you the name of the company they work for if they are not an employee of the charity, and the city and state where they are located.  If you don’t understand what they say or want them to clarify the name of the organization, ask them to repeat it.  “Which charity is this again?”  

Ask Where Your Donation Goes

At one time it was fairly common for charities to negotiate a percentage arrangement with a third party call center, also known as a paid fundraiser, where a fixed percentage of every gift was used to pay the call center and the rest went to the charity. These days, charities may opt for a more straightforward payment per call or per hour.  This allows them to manage their expense budgets, and ensures that well performing campaigns drive more money to the charity.  Once the base costs for time and services are paid (the same costs the charity would pay if their own staff were doing all the calling), every dollar donated is profit to support the charity’s programmatic work.  

To start to understand a charity’s finances, ask what percentage the organization spends on its programs (mission) overall.  The calling campaign is only one aspect of a much larger fundraising plan, so asking only for the costs of that campaign is not going to give you an accurate understanding of the charity’s financial management.  You can also visit Charity Navigator for the financials of the 8,000 charities we rate, along with the charity’s accountability and transparency practices.