Why Local 798 Does Not Telemarket or
Endorse Telemarketing
By John Hanley
For those of you who are unaware, telemarketing is the business of using the phone to raise funds for charity. The individual on the phone will say almost anything to get your pledge. That is how the solicitor puts food on his/her table through the commission process. I am sure we have all received that call from someone pushing his/her agenda so he/she can earn a living. The calls are annoying and problematic, with no checks and balances on the caller’s end.

What complicates this issue is when the caller uses the name “Firefighter” or “San Francisco Firefighter” in his/her appeal for funds. (Three such companies are now working the phones in S.F.) Our name is sacred with us because of the good will of our profession. When we use the name of “S.F. Firefighter”, we are asking the public for their support on behalf of a pension upgrade, a raise or support on an issue, such as the CPAT. At election time, that call made via our phone banks is made by a firefighter and for firefighters. Clear and simple.

Individuals may say that police, sheriffs, and other agencies do this type of soliciting, so why can’t I. Our name is so valuable that it should be used for our interests only. We earned it, we will use it for our interests. Come election time, we don’t need a San Francisco voter saying, “No, I won’t give you my vote. I gave to your fund already.”

Recently, another fire department local asked if they could pass the boot at a 49er game for our brothers in New York. We denied that request because we felt that passing the boot was not appropriate, considering that Local 798 raised $400,000 through donations from S.F. Firefighters, Retired S.F. Firefighters, Bay Area school children, and the citizens of San Francisco for our brothers in New York. When we ask our citizens for their support, it is done appropriately and as a class act. It is important to keep in mind that we’ll need their vote in the future.

Additional reasons why we don’t telemarket:

1. Of every dollar given, 15% goes to charity, while 85% goes to the caller’s company for expenses.

2. Diminishes our effectiveness with voters. Gets them use to saying “no” to firefighters.

3. Too many complaints regarding solicitors.

4. No checks and balances on conversations.

5. Takes advantage of seniors on fixed incomes.

6. Is considered by many, a cheap and ruthless way to raise funds.

7. Telemarketers use the police or fire name as a device to open the door for donations. How come they don’t use plumbers, electricians, attorneys or school teachers as a way to raise funds? Telemarketing ruins the effectiveness of our name.


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