Who else hates telephone fund-raising?
Some years ago, my college decided to go in for an annual campaign of telephone fundraising -- that means getting current students to ring up ex-students and ask them to get cheque books and credit cards out and give to the old college. Some of us awkward squad objected strongly to this. It all smacked far too much of double glazing salesmanship, and the worst excesses of cold-calling. And wasn't there a risk that it would actually put people off giving money? (It certainly would me . . .)
We were assured that it was not "cold", as people would get a letter in advance to explain that they were about to be called and would be able to write and ask not to be (... get real I thought). And we were told that even if it did put off the occasional mavericks (like us), it would raise a lot of money on its own account -- and re-establish relations with alumnae.
We were democratically overruled, and in a way we have been proved wrong. The annual campaigns have raised a lot of money and most of the ex-students called claim to have enjoyed speaking to current students (and vice versa)
Fair enough. But I still don't like it. When I myself was mistakenly called by a student telephoner a few yeasr ago, I'm afraid -- a bit to my shame -- I made mincemeat of her. And when the husband was called by someone from his old college a few days ago, I think he gave them a bit of the treatment he usually reserves for double glazing salesmen.
But in this case there was a sequel, which suggests that the whole thing has got even more corporate and slicker.
Because this morning a postcard arrived from the lad at the college, with whom the husband had had his "unsatisfactory conversation". It was a picture on one side of a group of students (the caller had put a ring around himself), and the message was sweetly polite "I am really sorry that we did not have the chance to speak further the other day....I would have loved to talk about your academic life in Cambridge. One of the areas that we are fundraising for is the tutorial system, which I am sure you feel passionately about etc etc ."
Uncharacteristically, the husband's stony heart was beginning to be melted by this... which he was taking to be a spontaneous card from the lad with whom he had been a bit unfortunately brusque.
To the cynical don, however, it didn't seem remotely spontaneous. After all, the card had been put through the college franking system (and even Oxbridge colleges aren't so generous that they give the students free postage for their private correspondence). And the smiling group of undergrads in the picture didnt seem like the usual student postcard of choice.
Presumably this was another notch up in slickness in this whole operation. In the phone campaign room, there is obviously a pile of these cards, and when the students get an awkward customer, they are told to write to them before they finish their shift... probably using that line about the tutorial system. (As it happens we both do feel passionate about the tutorial system, but we'll be damned if we'll be told we do by a young telephone campaigner).
It all reeked a bit of those handwritten letters you get from spoof "teachers in training" somewhere in sub-saharan Africa, who have no money to complete their course and have just sold their only remaining goat. A real heart wrencher, until you realise that it's been dictated and copied by the hundred (and that anyway their teacher traning college doesn't actually exist).
Has anyone else had one of these telephone campaign cards? Or am I being to cynical about its genesis? Was it a genuine gesture of friendship from the lad in question, as the husband had liked to think?