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One Tactic Used by Charity Telemarketers to Confuse Donors

   Dec 06, 2023

One tactic charity telemarketers use to try to pressure donors into giving is conflating a good cause with a good charity. They try to sell you on the worthiness of the cause, such as helping sick or injured animals or funding cancer research, then hope that if they can convince you that the cause is a noble one, you will assume that the charity for which they are raising money is too.

It's essential to be prepared to navigate these kinds of fundraising calls before you receive them so that you don't get duped into donating to an inefficient or ineffective charity, or even a scammer.

CharityWatch CEO, Laurie Styron, spoke with Marketplace about how to avoid charity telemarketing scams and other forms of ineffective giving.

“’Passive givers make a lot more mistakes than proactive givers,’ said Laurie Styron, CEO of CharityWatch, an independent nonprofit watchdog that has ratings for more than 650 charities.”

“Styron also recommends that potential donors look at the board of directors, especially those for smaller, local charities, to see if there are any glaring conflicts of interest, like everyone on the board being family members. Board members should also have expertise that relates to the charity’s mission, she said.”

“Rather than donating through a telemarketer, go directly to the charity’s website. This will ensure more of your donation goes directly to the charity.”

“’It’s usually a lot cheaper to do it that way,’ said Styron. ‘There’s really no need for you to put additional layers of administrative and fundraising costs between you and your donation.’”

“Don’t confuse the cause and the charity. Styron said fundraisers will often employ ‘strawman’ arguments to drum up donations.”

“’They’ll try to confuse you about the difference between something being a good cause versus a charity working in that cause being a good charity,’ she said.”

This analysis was made possible by contributions from donors like you. As the only charity watchdog in the United States, CharityWatch relies on public support to fund our work with journalists, our research into wrongdoing in the nonprofit sector, and our charity ratings. Your donations are noticed, needed, and greatly appreciated.


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