Tzedakah Calls

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    Feif Un

    About 2 years ago, someone called me from an organization asking for tzedakah. I had been going through a rough patch at the time, and had very limited funds to give to tzedakah. Also, the Rav in my community had just spoken that Shabbos about the fact that many people in our community were struggling to make ends meet, and that any tzedakah we give should stay within the community – aniyei ircha kodem. I explained this to the person on the phone, and said, “I’m really sorry, but I can’t help you now.”

    She asked, “Well, can you pledge $10 instead of $18?” I said “No, if I had an extra $10, it would go to someone in my community, not to you. I’m sorry, but I can’t give you anything.”

    She didn’t give up. “Well, can I send you an envelope, and you’ll mail a check when you are able?”

    I lost it at that point. I told her that I’d made myself clear that I couldn’t help hear, but she kept on bothering me. I asked her to take me off their list, and never contact me again.

    Of course, they didn’t. 6 months later, they called again. I told them that I’d asked to be removed from their list. The person said ok, I’ll take care of it, and that was it.

    Recently, I got yet another phone call from them. She asked if I’d like to match my donation from last year of $18. I told her, “I didn’t give you $18. I told you I wouldn’t give you a penny, and you should take me off your list. Don’t ever contact me again, I will never send you anything.”

    What do you think she said? “Well, can I send you an envelope?”

    Once again, I snapped. “Did you understand a word I just said to you? I will never send you a penny. You’re wasting your time and money calling me. I don’t want to talk to you. Take me off your list, and never contact me again.”

    She hung up on me.

    Why are these people so annoying? I tried to be nice, and explained to them nicely why I couldn’t help them. But that wasn’t good enough for them. They kept pushing and pushing. Why?


    It is their (the callers’) parnassah.

    They get a (rather large) percentage of the take.

    So they need you to give.

    And when your parnassah is on the line, you will be rude.


    What ticks me off is the Robo Calls. We had nights where we got 5 in one hour. Absolutely annoying.


    Feif un- thats real chutzpah!

    I once was making “tzedaka calls” to, and i tried to be careful not to be too pushy. A much as the organization needs money its not mantschlich to be pushy. Its hard for people to admit that they dont have the money especially if they were previous donors.

    Just a little off topic, but the ppl that answer the phone have to be mentschlich too. I’ve got some nasty ones even though only called them once, or they would refer me to their husband phone who would then tell me to call at a specific time, then no answer… It was just not worth it to pursue!


    As someone who worked for one of the companies, I can tell you that the callers themselves absolutely do not get any commission from these tzedakah calls. The owner also claimed that they did not get a commission either, and just charged an hourly rate for providing callers and lists, etc.


    There are companies that do this!?



    It’s not as horrible as it sounds, Gavra. Various tzedakos hired us for our valuable lists and experienced callers. What did you think? The tzedakos have a staff of people making calls the whole year? Generally, they just hired us out for 2-3 weeks for a campaign. All different sorts of tzedakos hired us: litvish, Chasidish, mordern, etc. These were reputable tzedakos and many of them are well-respected.


    Yes, there are COMPANIES that do calls. (That does not mean it is always from a company.) And at least the company I was familiar with some 12 years ago, the more they brought it, the more they were paid. They made calls for multiple organizations.


    Did you ever hear of Caller ID? Most of these companies make their calls using trunk lines ( extension phones ) that show up on caller ID as ” unavailable “. The easiest way to disengage a caller is to not pick up the call


    Mod, please let Popa’s post through. I need a good laugh for the night 🙂


    Something very similiar to Feif Un’s story happened to me just a few months ago. A particular organization that I do happen to be familiar with called. Since I’d already received an envelope, and was planning on sending something in, I told that to the caller. About a week later, another call comes in for the same org. I again explained that someone had already contacted me and that I would be mailing it in. Well, when I last counted, I’d received, over the course of approximately 2 weeks, over six different calls. I’d told caller #3 to please remove me from their calling list. Ditto the subsequent callers. By the time the last one called, I was so fed up with their constant calling that I decided not to send anything in, because if this org was spending so much on telemarketing, then I didn’t feel they would use my tzedakah money wisely either. I sent the director of this org an email explaining exactly that. P.S., no one has called me from there since.


    What gets me is when the caller ID says something like “Chaya Edelstein” or some other personal ID. I pick up the phone thinking it might be someone in one of my children’s class. It’s one thing if it really is “Chaya Edelstein” calling on behalf of the organization, but it’s usually someone other than the name that showed up on the caller ID. Someone is lying here.




    I thought that either:

    1: Parents of the school (voluntarily or in lieu of tuition) make the calls.

    2: Individuals who want/need the extra money but stay at home (like Kollel wives) make the calls.

    Not that it should be a business with a workplace and the whole shabang.

    Guess I learned something, Thanks.


    Mayan- Could be they are volunteers calling from home on behalf of the organization


    During the series of aforementioned calls, I did ask one of the callers if she were a volunteer or a telemarketer. She told me that she was a telemarketer, after which I came to my decision. This org needs to combine its lists (which it generates from a great many sources, such as shuls, websites, email lists, and of course, previous donations) to avoid duplication and wasted money calling the same people (who happen to be on different lists). As someone who works with data analysis tools daily, I offered to help them.


    I have established a rule in my home years ago because it had gotten out of hand and I could no longer remember to whom I had promised a donation. The rule that stands now is “WE do not give donations over the phone no matter who it is” If they push I just ask “have you ever heard of Shalom Bayis?”. And that’s it. I tell them “If you want to send an envelope it is up to you. If my husband chooses to give he will, if not he won’t.” and that’s that.


    blinky, if you check my post, I wrote that when the person started talking the name they gave was not even close to what caller id said. (e.g. CID: Chanie _____ Caller: Hi, I’m Tziporah, calling on behalf….)



    mayan- i hear you but there are some ppl who get together at one location to make the calls you know less boring or whatever. But there can be thousands of reasons why the CID doesn’t match up. In any case, if you don’t feel comfy you can just mail in a small donation to that org.


    I also dislike the autimated robo calls that always come during dinner time 🙁 We have learned to shut off the phone during that time.

    As far as people calling on the phone for money, if I have to say no to them I politely tell them we aren’t able to help them, thank you for calling and then I hang up. Very often they are still trying to get me to give to them but they are trained that as long as they got someone on the phone they should try to still ask for money, or less money, or can we send you an envelope. I feel bad for these people as it is a very hard job, but we can’t afford to give to everyone.


    Another reason I won’t give over the phone is that what 100% assurance do I have that the person taking my payment info is the person they alledge to be, representing an authentic tzedakah. There are notorious callers who do things like call with a slightly different name then the real one, so the listener probably won’t pick up the difference, and in reality, it’s a scam. I ask for an envelope, and refuse to commit to an amount, because what if, for whatever reason, I don’t have the funds I pledged when I get the envelope. If they’re not willing to do it that way, i tell them then they’ll get zero.


    When I was in College, I got a call from an organization. I explained I was currently in college and not earning money so I didn’t have anything to give. They really strong-armed me and made me feel guilry and I promised them $18. It wasn’t my money to give (I was being supported by my family at that time) and I had to ask my mother for the money.

    I didn’t feel good about donating the money. The organization gave me such a bad feeling that I no longer donate to them.


    My list of most annoying phone tactics:

    1. those who start out with a “thank you for your donation of $xx last year…”, when I never actually gave them anything.

    2. Automated messages. I always hang up on those, if they’re too important to talk to me personally, I’m too busy to listen

    3. Strong arm tactics

    4. Continuous calling from the same organization

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