Unsolicited Phone Calls

Before anyone gets upset with me . . don’t want that again, do we? . . I am nice to the people on the phone because I know they’re just trying to make a living.

Tonight we received a call from a group wanting a donation and it was actually for a cause I believe in and support but do you know that when people like that call you and you donate, only a very small percentage actually goes to the cause.  Here’s our conversation:

The Lady:  Hello, I’m calling to raise money for (insert cause).  We’re getting ready to send out envelopes and we have different envelopes to send, depending on how much you think you can donate.  As you know . . (she goes on to explain why this cause is so worthy and why they need to raise a lot of money!)

Me:  Can you tell me how much of the money I might donate will go directly to the cause.

The Lady:  Hmmmm, let me see, hmmmm  .  . 12%.

Me:  What happens to the other 88%?

The Lady:  Our expenses, salaries for those of us making the calls, office expenses, etc.

So, if I had given $100 to this fund, the actual organization would have received $12.  Doesn’t sound like a good deal to me!

Almost every time (and maybe EVERY time) someone calls you asking for a donation on behalf of someone else, that someone else is getting a very small percentage of what you give.  Ask questions if you don’t already!  Know who’s getting your money.  Too bad we aren’t so lucky to be able to know what our ever increasing tax dollars are paying for.


  1. 1


    12%???? That is obscene! I have 3 charities that I donate to, and although I know there are other worthy causes, I only donate to these 3 because 100% or close to 100% of the money donated goes directly to the people they are claiming to help.
    And a hard and fast rule my husband and I have is that we NEVER donate over the phone.

  2. 2


    Are you familiar with the saying, “Charity begins at home”? I believe this is SO true. Find a local family in need, or local cause… something you can contribute directly too. Charitable organizations “sound” good…. but…

  3. 3

    Cindy says

    We stopped donating a long time ago for this very reason. Now I understand there is expenses involved in any business but I think they need to lower expenses so the needy actually get the money.

  4. 4


    Sadly, most of the solicitation calls result in only a very tiny percentage going to the charity. I prefer to deal directly with any group myself…with no middle man. Now…….I’ll also have you know that I am NOT as polite as you when I get unwanted phone calls, so you are a GOOO person! (OOPS….better watch out or I’ll get some nasty feedback about the way I handle those phone calls.)

  5. 6


    One of the reasons I prefer to donate my time. That, and we don’t have much extra to give…. I also like the idea of working directly with families in need.

  6. 7

    Norma says

    Judy, I know exactly what you are talking about. I expect it was the same organization that called me. I wasn’t even thinking along those lines when I asked which local organization he was calling for because in my line of work I know a lot of them and just figured I might know him. He said that he wasn’t actually with the organization, but was hired by them to solicit funds. Needless to say, I didn’t need an envelope.

  7. 8

    Susan ~ Patchkat says

    Ernie asked that same question a couple of weeks ago when one of those charities called asking for $$$….the lady had to put him on hold and finally came back with an answer. 8%….EIGHT Percent 🙁 He told her he believed he’d find another organization to donate to that would give a much larger portion to help their cause, not their pockets.

    Good for you for asking! Me? I normally say “no thanks” and just hang up before they can start wheedling.

  8. 9


    I hosted a raffle with fellow quilters and the funds went to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Durham, NC. When we were talking about the donation I asked where the funds would go. They said administration and I said NO…They asked where would I like to see the money go and I told them that we would like for the money to directly help the families staying at their location. They agreed to our request.

    Sometimes we dont think about stipulating terms of where we want our charitable contributions to go to…but from now on, I will be asking and letting them know where to put the monies we raise. If the organization doesn’t agree, we can take our charitable funds elsewhere to someone who will honor our request.

  9. 10

    Marilyn says

    We got 4 of these calls this past week. I asked the same question, where does the money go. How much to the administration, etc. Not one could answer me. I am more than happy to donate time, or quilts etc and have done so. No more collecting from neighbors (I get those too). 8%-12% going to the charity is not enough. I pick and choose what we donate to, it is no longer cash. And, I would not donate anything over the phone.

    Marilyn (IQuiltToo)

  10. 11

    Bon says

    Good question to ask. I keep forgetting to do that. Maybe I should write it on my phone. LOL 8-12% is a very small amount going directly to the people the charity is supposed to help. Somebody’s pockets are getting lined I’m suspecting.

  11. 12

    Evelyn says

    Our quilt group made a raffle quilt last year and it raised $6,000. The money went to our local Rotary Club and they give it to needy causes directly in our community, including the food bank, medical assist, helping after a family looses everything in a fire, etc. Rotarians are a good group of people and they would never keep a percentage for themselves! -Evelyn

  12. 14


    At the Pantry I run in the village, I’m proud to say we spend every penny on the purchase of food and personal care items for our families. We are located in a church basement and not charged any rent so we have no overhead of any kind. Through the generosity of our local Stop n Shop we get thousands of dollars donated by customers who add a small amount to their bill as a donation. It’s not easy but we have built a local following over the past 30 years and even in these hard financial times, people still come with grocery bags full and checks to help. I was appalled when I found out how much of the donation dollar often sees it’s way to the needy, even in the case of the red cross. That’s another reason why groups such as quilts of valor is so worthy. You know where your donation is going to do the most good. Civic groups are often the best choice since it’s often volunteer run.

  13. 15

    peggy says

    I, too, try to be nice to the callers. They are trying to do the job they’ve been given, but it is definitely harder to get off the phone with simply a “thanks, but no thanks.” Where I work there is an annual attempt to get staff to sign up for an automatic withdrawal on behalf of a very LARGE charitable organization which donates to numerous charities under its umbrella. I asked the representative why I would rather donate to her fund and have them distribute the money through their beuracracy (I know that’s mispelled), instead of giving to the individual charities who didn’t have to pay staff and advertising and a huge administration. And what was the actual amount given to the individual groups? Close to 60% stays with the organization. The other 40% is divided among the charities. I told her I thought I’d pick individual local charities to support,or organizations supporting wounded vets and their families. In our area there are young men and women who stand outside of grocery stores in white uniforms with red trim and holding cans. They look pitiful, but they are paid for this job, and I’ve been told only about 5% of their collections go to anything charitable. Sorry to be long winded here, but we need to be cautious with whatever we can afford to donate. It upsets me that there are so many trying to take advantage of our good intentions.

  14. 16


    As a firefighter’s wife, the ways I disliked the most were the ones asking me to donate for injured, killed firefighters, etc. In fact, one time one actually came to the door, I asked to see who she was actually solicited for. She was in a regular car. She would not tell me so I got in my car and followed her to my neighbor’s house. She had out-of-state license plates on her car. I asked her about this and she finally said she was collecting for a certain volunteer fire company. I informed her about what is actually facts in the state of Va but it fell on deaf ears as she was being paid by someone. Some of you will not lilke this, but the union calls are the worse for fire victims, etc. Don’t fall prey to emotional pleas. The actual person who may or may not need this gets very little. The union used to have some pretty elaborate dances or parties. Where did that money come from? dues of the firefighter? I don’t know. But I am tired of put ons.

  15. 17

    A. L. says

    I always sent a donation to the organizations for the injured or paralyzed veterans—until I saw the reps from these groups in front of a US Congressional hearing.

    When I heard that only a VERY small amount of the money actually went to help the soldiers, I quit all donations. It made me sick to realize how taken in I was by the literature they sent.

  16. 18


    I donate to Cystic Fibrosis of course because of my grandchild. I will have to ask my daughter how much of the donations actually go for their research. If I remember correctly it is the majority of it. I also donate to our local food bank because it is amazing what even $10 buys in the way of food.

  17. 19


    That is why I only give to the CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) You get a booklet that gives you those numbers up front. Also you get a nice tax slip & As I have found, every little bit helps.

    Now why the heck is Quiltmaker calling me? (I let my husband answer the phone – he was courteous enough…) I used to love that magazine, but I let my subscription lapse…