Wednesday, December 19

Nonprofit's fundraising call center to close down

In May 2006, the Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association opened a call center in downtown Coos Bay. Employees called residents all across the state, asking for donations to fund programs provided by the firefighters organization.

However, within the past month, the group’s Board of Directors decided to close the facility two days after Christmas. As a result, about 20 to 25 employees will lose their jobs.

Spokesman for OVFA Steve Schneiderman says it was an effective fundraiser, but scam artists used that to their benefit with many instances of impersonators posing as call center employees to make their own financial gain.

"There were some new laws that went into effect for fundraising and telemarketing in Oregon and that did show a decrease in the donations available. This is generally the major fundraising program that we do, so we are going to have to look for another way to raise the funds to support our programs."

That exploitation and the negative public view of telemarketing are the ultimate reasons Schneiderman believes the center went under.

My personal note to telemarketing scammers who impersonated the volunteer firefighters in Christmas and took away this source of funding AND these jobs - I hope your Christmas lights short-circuit and your house burns down.

UPDATE: This story from the Associated Press that appeared in The Register-Guard on December 29th paints a different picture of the story.

It appears there was an "investigation by the Oregon attorney general’s office into a New Jersey telemarketing company the state says takes the lion’s share of the money it raises." Under an agreement reached in November, "the telemarketing firm’s activities are restricted for five years, although it can operate charitable or nonprofit call centers under the terms of state law."


Erich Riesenberg said...

Is this the same "charity?"

If so, $905,296 of the $1,170,072 the group spent in 2006 went to fundraising costs.

If so, sounds like a scam to me, and unlike you I am glad they shut down.

If this is the same group, I don't see any sort of financial statement online, which would make sense.


"a fundraiser" said...

It looks like you are right, Erich. My apologies for a premature blog posting without enough information. I updated the original story on Jan. 1st based on this AP story from Dec. 29th.