Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Pushy fundraising calls from ABT


Recommended Posts

Has anyone else had a pushy phone call from ABT? Yesterday I was called by someone asking for a donation. I explained I live in Canada so the friends' benefits aren't in fact benefits for me, and that I supported my local company, the National Ballet of Canada, she said "Well we're a National company too" (not sure how that would be convincing for a Canadian). I tried to say that I support ABT by taking groups from Canada to see it every year but she interrupted. I started to say "sorry..." and she said in an incredulous, what-kind-of-cheapskate-are-you voice "Not even ninety dollars???" and when I said "sorry" again, she hung up on me without so much as a goodbye, thank you for coming to ABT, whatever. I wrote to ABT to complain. Surely people should be allowed to say no to fundraising calls and still be treated with respect.

Link to post

I can't speak about ABT, but my father told me about a call of a similar nature from NYCB earlier this year. The caller was trying to reach my mother to ask for a donation. My father explained that my mother, who had been a member of the City Ballet audience since she was a girl, had died recently. The caller said "no problem!" and hung up. Like you, kbarber, my father wrote a letter of complaint to the company.

Link to post

ABT has been calling my cell phone for months now, trying to get a donation. I do plan on donating, as I did last year, but I'm paying off my London trip right now so I'll renew my membership in the next month or so when its easier financially.

In general, I don't answer my cell phone for numbers I don't know, I let my voice mail pick it up. I keep getting area code 212 phone calls, so I googled the number and it comes up as ABT per google. They never leave a darn message, they just keep calling and hanging up. It's rather annoying.

Link to post

kbarber, your politeness is exemplary!

Like Kaysta, I rarely answer a call if I don't recognize the caller ID, but if I do inadvertently pick up a fundraising call, the person on the other end of the line gets a rather brusque "no thank you" from me and a quick hang up about 2 seconds into their spiel. I used to try to be polite: "No thank you. I don't wish to donate at this time" or "I never give money in response to phone solicitations" or some such. I stopped that once I started to get pushback on every single call. (My apologies to call center employees everywhere. I know aggressive pushback is likely what the telemarketing compensation model encourages.)

Anyway, per its 2012 IRS 990, ABT paid DCM Telemarketing $202,562 for "Telefundraising to current and former donors." ABT's net take was $321,419. In other words, DCM kept about 39 cents of every dollar it raised for ABT. This is a little higher than the 36 cents per dollar that NYCB paid to SDA Teleservices Inc. during roughly the same period, but not wildly out of line.

From DCM's website: "Our team of managers and callers are specifically trained for fundraising and will help you reach your goals by effectively communicating your mission to your potential patrons." I think we can gather from this that DCM callers aren't volunteers. SDA's apparently aren't either. I recommend a visit to the "Call Center Campaigns" section of SDA's website to see what they're offering up by way of expertise: predictive dialing, a call center set up to handle a large volume of outgoing calls, "deep lapse" campaigns, etc. Their callers? "A staff of dedicated, well-trained callers who have a genuine interest in non-profit causes (we go to great lengths to immerse our callers in the mission, spirit and culture of each organization we represent, which ensures a fresh approach for each call.)" Ivanov's post suggests that better training might be in order.

I don't know if ABT is still using DCM -- they may have switched providers since 2012, of course. But if they're still using a tele-fundraising service, the methodology is likely the same.

Link to post

Because the internet is a time sink and because I would rather do anything than the dismal chore I'm desperately trying to pretend doesn't need to be done asap:

1) An article written by an arts organization telemarketer that explains how telemarketing calls work and how to make the caller go away.

2) Adaptistration's Drew McManus' observations on the article. Be sure to read the comments, which include a few replies from fundraisers. (If you have any interest at all in the performing arts as a business, Adaptistration is worth a visit.)

3) Two DCM job postings.

Link to post

I'm glad you complained, kbarber. This sort of treatment could turn people off donating to ABT if not permanently, then at least for a long time. Still, given that they usually cling like leeches, it's some sort of accomplishment to be hung up on by a telemarketer. wink1.gif

For all the fine descriptions, it does seem that the telemarketing companies are not as well versed as all that. Does it really make sense to fish for donations in another country? Has ABT not considered that the "benefits" it offers to donors will be of little use to someone who lives far from New York? Have they not considered an alternative for distant patrons? For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has separate membership categories for people who live beyond a 200-mile radius of New York City. The national/international "associate" receives the same benefits as the "individual" supporter, but for $40 less, because the museum knows perfectly well that an out-of-towner won't be able to avail himself of the perks with much regularity.

Link to post

I get hung up on by telephone fundraisers often. Our policy at home is to donate to written requests. We save them up, and do one donation at the end of the year (sorting through the box of requests and sometimes doing a little research) If we've donated in the past, we'll likely donate again, but we don't give or pledge over the phone, ever. Once I go through this (rather tedious) description, most callers hang up (some so say 'thank you' first). If they still don't believe me, I tell them that we hardly ever give, in any fashion, to people who insist on calling. That generally does it.

Link to post

Unfortunately, there are exceptions to the laws that define fines for telemarketers who call after being requested to never again call, but making it clear that any inclination you had to donate was destroyed by their call can do the truck, and contacting the marketing/fundraising department directly to be removed has worked in my experience.

Link to post

Thanks for taking time to find and post those links, Kathleen. I've only received fundraising calls from NYCB, and I rarely donate, but they've always been polite. What I find rude is that telemarketers, doctor's and dentist's offices, and the like always ask for people by their first name, and don't even identify themselves first. I used to ask "do you know so-and-so?", but having learned to expect the inevitable, now I just say "who's calling please?"

Link to post

I get hung up on by telephone fundraisers often. Our policy at home is to donate to written requests. We save them up, and do one donation at the end of the year (sorting through the box of requests and sometimes doing a little research) If we've donated in the past, we'll likely donate again, but we don't give or pledge over the phone, ever. Once I go through this (rather tedious) description, most callers hang up (some so say 'thank you' first). If they still don't believe me, I tell them that we hardly ever give, in any fashion, to people who insist on calling. That generally does it.

We do exactly the same thing, sandik. The only thing I add is "Please take us off your calling list because your calls are really annoying." Usually we don't hear from them again. In the case of ABT calls, I tell them I only donate directly through Grey Johnson.

Link to post

This is not about a dance related call, but my favorite was a telemarketer who wanted me to renew my membership with the Museum of Modern Art. I politely said my membership wasn't up for a couple of months and I would renew when I was at the museum. She actually said that if I renewed over the phone it would save me a trip to the museum.

Doesn't that make sense?!

Link to post

This is not about a dance related call, but my favorite was a telemarketer who wanted me to renew my membership with the Museum of Modern Art. I politely said my membership wasn't up for a couple of months and I would renew when I was at the museum. She actually said that if I renewed over the phone it would save me a trip to the museum.

Doesn't that make sense?!

I suppose, if you didn't go to the museum particularly often, this might be a reasonable idea, but I'm not sure the telemarketer was thinking about it in that way!

Link to post

This is not about a dance related call, but my favorite was a telemarketer who wanted me to renew my membership with the Museum of Modern Art. I politely said my membership wasn't up for a couple of months and I would renew when I was at the museum. She actually said that if I renewed over the phone it would save me a trip to the museum.

Doesn't that make sense?!

laugh.png or cry? moment.

Link to post

I get hung up on by telephone fundraisers often. Our policy at home is to donate to written requests. We save them up, and do one donation at the end of the year (sorting through the box of requests and sometimes doing a little research) If we've donated in the past, we'll likely donate again, but we don't give or pledge over the phone, ever. Once I go through this (rather tedious) description, most callers hang up (some so say 'thank you' first). If they still don't believe me, I tell them that we hardly ever give, in any fashion, to people who insist on calling. That generally does it.

We do exactly the same thing, sandik. The only thing I add is "Please take us off your calling list because your calls are really annoying." Usually we don't hear from them again. In the case of ABT calls, I tell them I only donate directly through Grey Johnson.

I, too, was getting very aggressive calls from ABT. When I would simply try to get off the phone with an excuse (like I can't talk now) the caller would simply keep going with their spiel. My caller ID does identify ABT when they call so I then chose not to answer their calls. However, when they started calling during dinner, my husband got fed up and brusquely told them to take us off their list. That seems to have done the trick, though, as a subscriber, I am deluged by mail from them almost every other day.

I would like to add that, unlike many of you nice people, I will refuse to give any money (other than for a ticket) to ABT until they change their AD and casting policies. I feel this company has been going down the wrong path for many years and I stopped donating around 2008. I know their current financial condition is dire but continuing with wrong headed policies (i.e., all the guest stars and neglect of inhouse talent) is just not something I can support.

Link to post
I would like to add that, unlike many of you nice people, I will refuse to give any money (other than for a ticket) to ABT until they change their AD and casting policies. I feel this company has been going down the wrong path for many years and I stopped donating around 2008. I know their current financial condition is dire but continuing with wrong headed policies (i.e., all the guest stars and neglect of inhouse talent) is just not something I can support.

I totally agree with you in principle, Amour. The only reason I donate is so that I can take my ballet student granddaughter to the studio rehearsal in the spring, which she adores. The other thing is that I don't think it gets through anyone's head among the higher-ups at ABT that maybe there are good artistic reasons for members to withdraw their support.

Link to post

Well, I should say that I just got a very nice apology from Grey C. Johnson, Director of Membership at ABT, who said, among other things: "80% of our new members and 30% of our renewals come by making telephone calls to patrons who purchased tickets. We try very hard to be respectful of people’s time and their privacy. Obviously, in your case, we failed."

Link to post

Well, I should say that I just got a very nice apology from Grey C. Johnson, Director of Membership at ABT, who said, among other things: "80% of our new members and 30% of our renewals come by making telephone calls to patrons who purchased tickets. We try very hard to be respectful of people’s time and their privacy. Obviously, in your case, we failed."

That is stand-up -- excellent.

Link to post

Bravo to Mr. Johnson.

There's an arts organization to whom I used to donate over $1000/year (my big yearly gift) and got it matched when I worked for a company that matched, and they made a second, unrelated big mistake in three-four years. Had they even said, "Whoops, thanks for telling us so that we can fix xyz system or process," (like the first time) that would have been enough. Their answer was, in essence, that it wasn't a big deal. Needless to say, I stopped donating. When the cost of acquisition of a donor, subscriber, and donor/subscriber is great, there's no excuse for losing them by refusing to acknowledge mistakes.

Link to post

I, too, have found the solicitors at NYCB to be pushy and aggressive. Regardless that I've explained that I support the company with my subscription in NYC and at Saratoga and that I don't live in or near NYC, it falls on deaf ears and I have to admit I've felt pressure to give additional monetary support. I don't mind supporting by the extra gift in and of itself, but there is only so much one can do and we have our arts organizations here in Albany that we have a duty to support - the marvelous Albany Symphony and others. The folks at the NYCB subscription office can be pretty pushy, too. oh, well I suppose that is their job........ smile.png

On a related note, it's very irksome that ABT does not allow a create your own subscription - grrr.

Link to post

Greetings, Abatt. I called the box office when I received my subscription guide and saw no way to make a 'your own' series. I explained that living 160 miles from NYC did not allow me to subscribe conventionally and they had nothing to offer. NYCB does offer a create your own and that's why I can be an annual subscriber, considering the travel issue for me.

Link to post

I thought ABT began offering Create Your Own subscriptions a few years ago.

ABT has the Trios subscription that essentially allows you to choose your own subscription. It generally doesn't get offered for the Met season until about late January.

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...