Political fundraisers have it in their heads (on the basis of evidence no doubt) that sending long letters with stamped return envelopes improves donations. It doesn’t work with me. I resent long fundraising letters, especially with stamped return envelopes, and have established a rule to throw out unread any such letter longer than three pages (most are 7 to 12 pages!!!), including the stamped envelope, though that hurts a bit (as the bastards know full well).
More recently many fundraisers have taken to the telephone. I guess the “don’t call list” doesn’t apply to fundraising. At the end of their spiel, when they ask if I would be willing to contribute X or Y, I invoke another of my self-protective rules and inform them that I never commit to donations on the phone no matter what the cause and I make no exceptions, but I will be happy to review their letter when I receive it (if it is less than three pages). To a man (and occasionally a woman) they then inform me that for the computer they are required to indicate some amount, no matter how small, before a letter can be sent. There must be a marketing study and book that advises this or they have all studied at the same school, because the routine is exactly the same whatever the cause. My innate politeness has led me to waste much of their and my time before the conversation reaches this impasse and I hang up in anger sometimes shouting at them.
I am now pondering whether to simply hang up as soon as their purpose becomes clear or to interrupt with, “I never make or consider donations on the phone” and then hang up before they can explain their required minimum pledge no matter how small. I welcome your advice or alternative suggestions.
Author: Warren Coats
I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy. I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989. After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017. Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75. I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise. In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.” My recent books are One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina; My Travels in the Former Soviet Union; My Travels to Afghanistan; My Travels to Jerusalem; and My Travels to Baghdad. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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