Fundraiser Wars

When you first arrive in Sydney (or any other city in Australia) and open up a job search engine like Gumtree or TAW, you will undoubtedly come across numerous fundraiser jobs. And they will all butter you up with promises of doing something for the “greater good” by helping raise much needed money for charities, and offer you rates between $17 and $21 an hour, and some will even discuss possible sponsorship opportunities. Well if you’re reading this and are in this sort of situation, take my advice, and avoid ANY fundraising positions at all costs. And I am going to tell you exactly why and debunk all the rubbish they will pitch to you.

Firstly, if you really do care about charities and where the money goes that people donate, then the whole concept of street or phone fundraising should make you want to vomit. Typically every donation to charity carries around a 12% administration fee. That’s the % it costs for the paper pushers, their managers and the banks etc. to process the payment. This is standard, regardless of whether you pay by posting your details online or turn up to your local Red Cross with a bag full of cash. However if you donate through a street fundraiser or give your details over the phone to a cold caller much much less will actually reach the charity. Effectively the charity will receive nothing for the first three months. That’s right.. NOTHING. That’s because the first three months will go directly into the pocket of the happy, sweet, charming little bastard (aka yourself) who talked you into giving over your bank details. Then after that over the next year very little (I don’t know the exact percentage, unsurprisingly they refused to tell me) actually goes to the charity itself. The people managing the churpy little bastard (who most think are the charity themselves) also take their cut as well. Effectively the process is that the managing company will sell the scripts to the charity for a set fee of what they are worth over a year and then in turn pay you. So effectively if you are one of those naïve souls who thinks you are changing the world from the bottom up, you aren’t and you’re an idiot, you are just feeding your master the same as everyone else.

Secondly, your payment. Very rarely are these companies upfront and honest when it comes to this. They will pitch you a tale of how much money you will be earning and how valuable and rewarding your work is. But as I touched on earlier, these companies sell your work for a fixed rate, so effectively as a company they have no fixed assets and no continuous income. So if you don’t sell you won’t last long. For example when I worked for a company called Connect Fundraising I was promised a rate of $18 an hour with a target of 1 sale a day. I made 1 sale my first day and none on my second. At the end of my second day I was given the choice to go commission only or get fired. I chose the latter. And honestly I didn’t have much chance of making a sale that day in the rain, when sick, in an area where the same 6 people walked up and down the street all day. They called it Caringbah but I didn’t find the people there particularly caring! This was on top of my boss complaining all day about how he hasn’t been paid in two weeks, has a child to raise, and is dying from kidney failure with 10 years or so to live. I quoted him 100k sterling but he may want to check blood types first before entering that kind of arrangement, and advised him into looking into a new career because his company (if you can call it that) is worthless and street fundraising is a crowded market that’s had its day. Utter idiot, and these are the people who we are actually raising money for not the charities.

And then there was my experience in phone fundraising with a company called 2evolve who I’m not really going to touch upon much because I’m 95% sure they are run by the devil himself and I don’t particularly want demons coming to eat me. They come across as very corporate and to be fair to them operate as a business professionally (they will pay you and pay you well enough). But as soon as you get into the call centre it’s a different world, a lot of micro management and coaching if you didn’t push that poor pensioner that little bit harder for an extra $5 dollars a month. You really do have to leave your soul at the door if you want to succeed in that job, which is obviously what Satan is after, but I was not prepared to do. And then the little 15 minute team meetings where you would play a stupid game like slaps to keep up morale and I guess remind everyone that they are indeed human, was I don’t know, I can’t even comment on that in a civilised manner. Anyway, I lasted there a week before I was fired for refusing to badger OAP’s for their hard earned pensions. I apparently was giving the charity a bad name by hanging up… though I’m pretty sure half the people I called who swore at me to never call again or will cancel their membership if I do… believed otherwise.

So overall for all the backpackers out there I highly recommend to avoid these type of companies at all costs, unless you have no soul of course and don’t mind being screwed over. But for the non backpackers out there I also believe my experience should spark some debate about not only how we give our money to charity but who we do as well. Because I find it extremely contradictory that charities who champion human rights can then turn a blind eye to the corrupt and exploitationary way their money is raised. Much like how we expect Apple to be responsible for the rights of workers in their supply chain in China and elsewhere, charities should be held accountable for how they raise their money. Because a lot of them, and I mention Amnesty International here directly because they are one of the worst and most widespread, either don’t know or don’t care. Which for a human rights organisation is, in my taking things to the extreme mind, unforgivable. And I donated to them for three years, but after fundraising for them I will never give them a penny ever again despite how good the work is I think they do.

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