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Understanding the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of Talking to Charities

Part of the Charity and Philanthropy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Deciding on which charity you’d like to support will of course create some questions, and you’ll want these questions answered. Most of the time, unless the charity has a long FAQ on its website (check for this before you ring!) you’ll need to give them a call. When you call, consider the following points in order to get what you want from your conversation:

  • Introduce yourself as a potential supporter.

  • Raise your concerns respectfully and in an organised way.

  • Reach out via e-mail if your question is technical or lengthy and will require a long reply.

  • Use language that is unambiguous, for example, ‘I’m confused about the 4% you spend on overhead, can you break that out into its constituent costs?’ rather than ‘You seem to be spending a lot on people and copying paper and stuff like that. Can you explain why?’

  • Maintain a positive upbeat tone.

  • Remember that the person on the other end of the telephone may be a volunteer who just signed up, who yesterday was like you are now. Show the person the respect and patience you would want to be shown.

  • Thank the person for taking the time to address your questions or concerns. There are undoubtedly other things that person could be doing for the charity and your call has contributed to the charity’s overhead expenses. Be cautious and thoughtful in your actions.

Try not to:

  • Criticise anyone on a personal level.

  • Conduct personal arguments or stoke philosophical disagreements.

  • Reveal anything about yourself or your identity that you aren’t comfortable with everyone knowing.

  • Use offensive language or tone.

  • Raise your voice or act rudely toward the person answering the telephone. It is very unlikely the person on the telephone set the policy you have questions about or managed the campaign you’re objecting to. Realise this person is an agent of the organisation and not a personification of it.

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Charity and Philanthropy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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