Why You Shouldn't Let Telemarketers Help You Donate

Earlier this week we posted a warning to watch out for calls from people asking for donations on behalf of local police or fire departments. Today an alleged former employee—who says he quit after two days of training and one day of seeing what it was really like on the call center floor—wrote in to tell us a little more about how a company on the other side of that phone call works.

He writes:

[The company I worked for, Civic Development Group,] operates out of Austin, TX, behind a nightclub. This is one of those companies that hires people by means of business cards “left behind” at bus stops. There is a severely high incentive to hire your friends on, additional pay being given for any new hires you recommend.

Additional incentive exists to force an upsale from any customer you speak to. The “sale” in question is a donation, with a sticker being given that you can put on your car to show that you supported the companies and organizations that [the company] claims to be representing.

In the company policies, it is demanded that you never refer to any decision or offer being on behalf of “Us” or “We”. This is geared specifically towards protecting the company from lawsuit, and allowing the employee to be sued if any customer suddenly wants to.

I know all of this because I used to work there. Three days, actually. The first two were training days, and when I saw what was actually done on the floor, I quit at the end of the day.

We don’t know if our tipster really worked for CDG, but it got us wondering about the company itself and its relationship to Oregon. Through Google we found a mention of Civic Development Group, LLC, in a 2005 report (pdf) on charitable giving released by Oregon’s Department of Justice. Page 9 shows that CDG was a recognized telemarketer soliciting contributions for the Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association, but that the net proceeds to charity were only 13 percent—one of the lowest percentages of any of the organizations listed in the report.

By contrast, the organization cited in the article we posted about earlier this week—which Oregon’s Attorney General has banned from the state for three years for misleading consumers—had a 50% net proceeds to charity rate in 2005 (see page 12).

Our take? Consumer Affairs was right—you shouldn’t do business with these telemarketers. The amount of your donation that actually ends up going to the organization is paltry, when you could just as easily contact the organization yourself—or some national group like the Red Cross—and donate.




“Charitable Giving; It Makes a Difference” [Oregon Crime Victims Rights]

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“Don’t Donate Money To Public Safety Organizations Over The Phone”
(Photo: StephenMitchell)