Which Part of “Do Not Call” is Not Registering?

helloI have a really simple policy when it comes to telemarketers of any sort: if you call my house to sell your junk, then I’m not buying, even if it’s a cure for cancer or a unicorn that shits gold bricks.

I’ve got all our phone numbers on the official “do not call” lists, and that takes care of the bulk of the more pedestrian stuff. If you haven’t done it, then go do it, right now (cell phones, too).

But of course, I still get the hilarious calls from that poor schmuck in Bangalore who claims to work at the Microsoft’s Tech Support Center and has found a virus on my PC (even though my caller ID says it’s Diane Smith from Minnesota – hers being the most recent phone number the crafty scam artists have reversed engineered to cover their tracks), but I put those down to cheap entertainment, so they don’t really count.

No, the ones that really grind my gears are the non-profits that for some reason have been given an exemption from the “do not call” registries. That’s why I still hear from the Association of Chiefs of Police about their raffle a couple of times a year, and various other groups that somehow have managed to beg, borrow, buy or steal a list with my name and number on it. Earlier today I got a call from a woman who introduced herself as a paid fundraiser for the American Breast Cancer Foundation (or Society or Fellowship or some such thing — same difference, really).

No exemptions in my book, so as I said: if you call me at home, then I’m not giving. Ever again. Worthy cause or not, you simply do not get away with this intrusive shit. Infest my mailbox if you must, my email too – those I at least check at my own convenience and it’s no biggie to ditch your sales pitch along with the rest of the crap. But calling me in the middle of dinner to launch into your carefully scripted sob story intended to make me pay up out of sheer annoyance? So. Not. Okay.

I’ve worked for enough non-profit to know how the game looks from that side of the table: it sucks to be you, trying to meet your fundraising goals for the month/quarter/year. While you’re struggling to come up with something that hasn’t been done to death before, you come across the countless crafty con artists (a k a consultants) offering new and exciting ways to reach a target audience with an increased conversion rate and guaranteed results.

I’ve had the tedious debate more than once with directors of development who couldn’t see a problem in adding telemarketing to the mix in the hopes that it might deliver a little extra. I think it’s a terrible idea, because your innocent little exercise in home invasion may backfire, leaving people like myself holding your intrusive behavior against you and your cause for the foreseeable future. Then it’s not just a dud that’ll bring down your overall kill ratio, it’s a distinct liability that’s actively costing you goodwill and jeopardizing donations you might have gotten elsewhere at a future date.

So, please: don’t be that development douchebag and think that just because you’re doing it for “a good cause” it’s suddenly okay to violate common sense rules of decency. Nobody is sitting around waiting for your call, we’ve all got infinitely better things to do – even if it’s watching paint dry.

If you’re so desperate that telemarketing is beginning to sound like an appealing way to raise funds for your organization, then you may need to rethink your vision, your mission and your very reason for being.

Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg

A legend after 35 years of boldly going where no white musician had ever gone before, Johnny Clegg spent  a long weekend at Dartmouth College as a visiting Montgomery Fellow.

More than just an epic performer, Clegg has a true passion for and profound theoretical understanding of South African culture, politics and traditions. He spent a couple of hours in an intimate discussion with a small group of Dartmouth students discussing gender, power, oral tradition and the concept of physical space, while also demonstrating his mastery of Zulu language and dance.

Above all else, he is an incredibly warm and compassionate human being; close to 60 years old, but still has a youthful, mischievous twinkle in his eye as he recounts stories of his years as an activist and groundbreaking musician and dancer in South Africa.

I was fortunate enough to see Clegg live in Cape Town in the late nineties, and again in 2013 at a concert in Hanover. But it was a real privilege to hear him explain some of the cultural factors underpinning his intricate and mesmerizing art.