The lady asked, “What is your full name?”
I said, “Bhavin Jankharia.”
“Please tell me your maiden name.”
That’s when I blew and told the lady on the phone that I wanted to withdraw my donation to her charity, ABC.
To rewind! A month ago, KS rang the bell on a Sunday evening. I opened the door and saw a tired young man earnestly making a pitch for ABC, a charity. He was a management student from Khalsa College, spending New Year’s Eve week going door-to-door trying to raise funds for ABC.
Something about his earnestness was appealing and I promised him a donation. He then brought out a long, complicated form that made my heart sink. I told him I would donate online and let him know once done.
That was a big mistake!
After I finished the online donation the same evening, I texted him and assumed that the acknowledgment and thank you email I had received from ABC would be the last I would hear from them. That is how others like Hippocampus, Akshaya Patra and World Vision function – they follow-up only on email, if at all.
A day later there were frantic calls from KS saying he wanted some more information including my PAN details. I introduced him to my secretary, but he didn’t seem to understand and on a working day when there was no one but my daughter at home, he landed up again.
I freaked out.
Finally when I thought this was all sorted out, I received a call from ABC’s landline. My secretary returned the call. Someone from ABC wanted to thank me. I sent a message back acknowledging the thank you.
ABC continued to call once a day for three consecutive days. I was busy each time and diverted the call to voice mail, but no one left a voice mail. Four days ago, I finally picked up. The lady immediately started asking me a bunch of questions saying she needed more information including my PAN details. I told her the information had been sent. That’s when she asked me about my “maiden name”.
I have always been uncomfortable donating to charities offline because of the paperwork and similar issues involved. Online donations are a lovely way of remaining anonymous to the extent possible, with minimal paperwork and effort. And allowing recurring charges on the credit card eliminates the need for the charity to send reminders and for the donor to remember to donate.
ABC and KS have been doing everything in their power to make this as difficult for me as possible.
This is also the reason why people don’t stop on the road to help someone who needs attention. Things don’t end with the good deed. The Good Samaritan often has to waste more time and energy with legal paperwork, visits to the police station and sometimes even court dates. And often those you have helped embarrassingly also want to spend time with you to thank you.
I made a small five-figure donation. Filled up whatever form there was online. That should have been the end of it. At the most, as Akshaya Patra does, there could have been one follow-up call to thank me, with the name and number of the calling person clearly mentioned in the voice-mail, in case I wanted to get back.
Long, complicated paper forms, hounding a donor with calls, asking for my “maiden name”…are guaranteed ways of turning a donor away, which ABC has managed to do really, really well.
Which is just such a shame!