Alleged Pledge

Way back in September, SephardiLady had a post about the do’s and don’t of solicitation (in two parts). I’d like to add one more. It only bugged me a little bit, but when it happened the third time, I decided to blog about it.

Recently, we’ve had several phone calls appealing for money for various organizations. They usually ask me to pledge x amount of dollars. I don’t like to do that, so I usually tell them to just send me an envelope with their brochure, and we’ll assess it then. I’m always careful not to make any pledge whatsoever. One day, I come home and my wife asks me, “I didn’t realize we pledged $36 to X organization. I thought I told you we already spent all of our ma’aser money.” I look down at the envelope, and sure enough, its the same organization that I had spoken to a few days earlier. Now that just ticks me off. In one particular case where this happened, I remember specifically telling the person on the phone that my wife deals with ma’aser, so I can’t pledge anything, just send me your envelope.

I think its a huge chutzpah that they then go ahead and make it as if we pledged something. Not only does this make me not want to give them, it probably messes up their financial records because they write in their accounting books that a certain amount of money was pledged, and can use that information to obtain loans. But since I’m now mad at them and not sending them any money, they’re not going to make as much as they forcasted.

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16 Responses to “Alleged Pledge”

  1. AlanLaz Says:

    I’d call them and tell them that you had planned on giving them much more than $36, but since they said that’s how much you pledged, you’ll give that much.

  2. Greg Says:

    I believe that they can write off a non-fulfilled pledge, so there may be some tax benefit for an organization to do such a thing.

  3. soccer dad Says:

    There’s one organization that I won’t give to anymore because of that sort of thing. But we don’t make pledges over the phone. (We had for awhile but didn’t keep track of things and it got out of hand.) Some organizations are nice but others will keep on insisting “but surely you could pledge $10 …” and just won’t take no for an answer. (Or send me literature and we’ll think about it.)

  4. Erica Says:

    We also never pledge a specific amount and ask them to just send us envelopes however they never do until after asking us “how about $25, no, ok, how about $20, no, ok, how about $15, no, ok, how about $10 etc.” and the conversation drags on like this. One time the person told my husband, “we can’t send you an envelope unless you pledge something” so he said “ok can I pledge $1” and they said “no” so he said “ok well then I guess you can’t send us anything.” I think I blogged about that.

  5. aishel Says:

    Alan, but that would mean that I have to give the $36. Like I said, no thanks.

    Erica, I’ve had a similar situation. One person couldn’t understand why I just wouldn’t pledge something. She’s like, “But we help teens on drugs!” Lady, so do 50 other organizations.

  6. aishel Says:

    Greg, Soccerdad, your comments showed up again as spam. Sorry.

  7. BOTS member Says:

    Hmm. Interesting. I don’t recall ever being contacted by an organization asking for a pledge. Are you talking about things like the polics or firfighters associations that call up? I always hang-up on them before they can get any other words out so maybe they would ask for a pledge if they had the chance.

  8. SephardiLady Says:

    Interesting. I’ve got to link to you. I bet this is really common.

    There is an organization that calls nearly every week and I have told them repeatedly that I do not pledge over the phone and that we tend to keep our money local, but if they want they can send us information about their organization through the mail. Not once have we received information, and the conversation ends promptly.
    Peninah, my uncle was at that game.

    Turns out that when I was gone from the home and my mother answered another one of their calls that she was asked where my check was because I had pledged $36.00. My mother couldn’t remember the name of the organization. But, thanks to Called ID, low and behold, I was able to determine it was the same culprit organization that calls nearly weekly.

    Well, my toddler is obssessed with answering the phone, so when I see their name on the Caller ID, I let him answer the phone. Let’s just say that the conversation ends even quicker.

    Oh, and I too have received envelopes for pledges I supposedly made, none of which I have ever made since we don’t pledge over the phone.

  9. SephardiLady Says:

    You got a link. 🙂

  10. Nighthawk700 Says:

    You might want to follow up with a letter though to make sure they don’t keep after you for the “pledge.” About nine years ago, the DC Capital Campaign (UJA? I can’t even rememer which one it was now, it’s the one that has “Super Sunday”) called and asked me for a pledge. I told them I donated to them through the GWU Hillel already (I was taking classes there at the time, and Hillel was accepting donations to forward on to the agency). They asked how much I gave “just for their records.” So I told them. Later I got a bill for the amount. I mailed back that I already gave, through Hillel. Got another bill. Then, of all the chutzvah, I got a letter saying that if I didn’t send the amount immediately, I would be turned over to a credit agency! I wrote back a very cold reply documenting how I gave the donation via Hillel, I told them that several times, and they were to remove my name from all of their mailing and solicitation lists as I would NEVER donate to them again. I sent it directly to the rabbi who was in charge. I never heard from them again, not even an apology.

  11. aishel Says:

    Nighthawk, wow, thats insane!

    Do they even have the legal right to turn you over to a credit agency for not paying a “pledge”?

  12. Nighthawk700 Says:

    Good question, I don’t know. Maybe they were just trying to “scare” me into sending money. If so, it sure backfired on them. They already had my money for that year, but never got any more. Other places I donate to on a regular basis, I have been increasing the donations as my own income increases. But it’s okay, I found other worthy charities to give to.

  13. Miriam Says:

    We used to get those calls all the time. (Now, through no fault of our own, we’re unlisted. Poof, no more tzedakah calls!) One organization would just call back again and again, hoping to get my husband, I think. (Not that he’d tell them differently…)

    To each one I would tell them the same thing. We don’t make phone pledges, but if you send us an envelope, we’ll probably send you something. I got a lot of “Can’t I just put you down for $18? You can always send more.” I explained that my husband is very particular, that if you put $18, you’ll get $18, exactly, this year. And most probably nothing next year. But if you send an envelope WITHOUT AN AMOUNT, you’ll probably get a lot more. Especially if we really did give you “x amount” last year. For the record, there *are* actually organizations out there that are capable of understanding this and just sending an envelope. But they are few and far between. It’s so nice to only get the envelopes now that they don’t have our phone number. A lot easier to say yes or no to, on our time, without any pressure.

  14. Channah Says:

    I understand how all of you might consider getting these Tzdakah calls annoying and the people rude but you have to understand that these people have a job to do. The job is to raise funds for an organization that is need of money so they can help the people in need. They don’t mean to be pushy and rude on the phone. They must be persistent because otherwise every person will say no on the first come back and there will be no phone pledges. Even if you have a policy of not pledging or simply don’t want to do it, bear with the fund raisers until they finish their convincing you and just say no I can’t do it or whatever your feeling toward it is.

    These so called Rabbis that hang up or are rude to tzdakah callers are not really as religious as they claim to be. Religious people are those who say keep up the good work and tizkuh le mitzvot.

    As for the first person who posted, I’m sorry that the organization sent a letter that you pledged when you didn’t. I don’t know how that happened. It usually doesn’t…

    I advise all Jews who get these type of calls to stay on the line with fund raisers and not accuse them of being pushy because that makes the job for the fund raisers much harder. They are trying raise funds for the organizations and for the people in need…


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