Archive for Monday, June 6, 2011

Save the Children solicitors irk some downtown shoppers, business owners

Reporter Shaun Hittle discusses why some non-profit analysts say the street solicitation the organization Save the Children has been doing in Lawrence is inefficient.

June 6, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated June 6, 2011, 9:12 a.m.


A Save the Children worker, center in red, speaks with a man on Massachusetts Street on  June 1. Save the Children workers have been spotted downtown for the last couple of months soliciting donations for their organization.

A Save the Children worker, center in red, speaks with a man on Massachusetts Street on June 1. Save the Children workers have been spotted downtown for the last couple of months soliciting donations for their organization.

Save the children, an admirable endeavor.

And if you’ve been to downtown Lawrence in the past couple of months, you may have been asked to help with that goal by red-vested or red-shirted workers soliciting donations for the international nonprofit, Save the Children.

But asking local shoppers downtown for money has irked some in the business community.

“They’re annoying,” said Peter Zacharias, owner of Goldmakers, 723 Mass.

Zacharias said he’s heard complaints from customers, and even sees shoppers cross to the other side of the street to avoid the group.

“They just stop everybody walking down the street,” said Zacharias, who brought up his concerns at a recent listening session with city commissioners.

Lawrence city commissioner Bob Schumm, who owns the downtown restaurants the Dynamite Saloon and Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse, said he’s also heard complaints about the solicitors.

“It doesn’t help it,” said Schumm when asked about the effect on downtown business.

About Save the Children

According to Save the Children’s IRS forms, the group collected more than $400 million in donations and grants in 2009. The funds are used for programs all over the world, from education programs in Guatemala to disaster relief in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo.

Laurie Styron, an analyst for the American Institute of Philanthropy, said her organization has performed an analysis of Save the Children’s financial statements. They’ve found the group is very efficient with their money; 89 percent of funding they collect goes to services.

“They actually get an ‘A’ from us,” she said.

That’s not the whole story, said Styron, citing some concerns specifically about how the group is raising funds in Lawrence.

The workers are paid by an outside contract agency hired by Save the Children, according to the organization’s spokesman, Steven Fisher.

That type of fundraising isn’t very cost-effective, Styron said, because the money donated goes to cover the wages of the workers first, then to the contractor, then to Save the Children. If someone gave to the charity directly — online for instance — more money goes to the charity.

“Sometimes they even lose money,” Styron said. “This charity is breaking even. If they’re lucky.”

Fisher said Save the Children hadn’t heard complaints about the soliciting in Lawrence, but said the organization is sensitive to local concerns.

“We want to know” if there are problems, he said. “We want to make sure we’re working in the community in a way that everyone’s happy.”

City code issues

Nonprofits, or people in general, don’t need a specific license to solicit money in the city, said Toni Wheeler, attorney for the city of Lawrence. Legally, the practice is no different from panhandlers who ask citizens for money. And though the city has heard complaints about both, making any changes to the city code that would prohibit soliciting is an uphill First Amendment battle.

“It’s constitutionally protected conduct,” Wheeler said. City officials looked at requiring panhandlers to get soliciting licenses back in 2009, but legal research highlighted some of those constitutional issues. “It’s difficult to regulate First Amendment speech.”


Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

I live in an apartment complex that is clearly marked: "No Soliciting". It's not allowed at all.

I'm wondering, would it be possible for all of Mass. Street to be a "No Soliciting" zone, or is that illegal, due to the fact that it is public property?

trainpost 6 years ago

"Charity’s solicitors irk some downtown shoppers..." Exactly what I thought while with my kids at the Library summer celebration. Four different people asked me a total of 7 times if I wanted a Give Back card. After the 7th solicitation, I put the one I did have in the garbage. No thanks.

Graczyk 6 years ago

Seems kind of vindictive of you. Why would you decide to stop helping the charity that you picked when you signed up for the card because of the actions of 4 people who are probably totally unrelated to that charity and their work?

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

I wonder, what is the going rate for the CEO of a charity that collects 400 million in donation, both cash and grants, and then distributes the money both locally and globally? It seems that the skill set necessary to accomplish this job in an efficient manner would place that person in high demand. And with high demand usually come increased competition and increased compensation.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Maddolf would fit right in as CEO here.

Shaun Hittle 6 years ago

Save the Children's executive makes around 400k per years, if you add in his benefits package.

Shaun Hittle LJW Reporter

locomotivebreath1901 6 years ago

Sounds like reasonable compensation for a skilled manager to efficiently run such a complex organization. Thanks.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Shaun, since you are directly involved in this story can you verify that these solicitors are legitimate? Someone needs to verify that they are legitimate or kick them off the street. Do they have a license to solicit? Why did they pick Lawrence, Kansas when they are not doing it anywhere else?

Shaun Hittle 6 years ago

No license to solicit.

But for whether they're legit, from everyone I talked to, they appear to be. Several folks who make a living scrutinizing complex IRS forms said STC scores well on the important measures.

One of the big questions I had going into the story was whether they were legit, and from the information I gathered, they seem to be a well-respected non-profit.

But, there were people who took issue with the on-the-street soliciting and it's efficiency.

ECM 6 years ago

Nope, per Charity Navigator Charles F. MacCormack President (The person identified as holding the highest position of management, and therefore who would normally be responsible for carrying out the mission of the charity and leading the organization on a day-to-day basis.) $365,130

awelles 6 years ago

Oh, for heavens sake, just say "No." Say "No" 10, 12 or 50 times. What's the big deal? "Save the Children" needs the donations, the people soliciting need the work, the company "Save the Children" hired has salaried employees who need the paychecks. Lighten up. You've got yours or you couldn't be shopping. Rich, me and the poor are all in this economy together. We need and depend on each other.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Exactly. Why would you cross the street to avoid this? I give to charities, so I guess I don't have any guilt. I can say no to any solicitations on street, without feeling bad. No is not a bad word.

runner87 6 years ago

Sure. It's easy to politely say "no" when shopping downtown on the occasional decline their requests, maybe, more than once. No sweat. But it's an entirely different story for those that work downtown. Every day, multiple times a day, there is someone in a red shirt asking for a few minutes of my time. I don't have a few minutes. I'm going to lunch. I'm coming back from lunch. For the 100th time, "no" and I will cross the street to avoid you.

Cimmy Redmond 6 years ago

I've crossed the street to avoid them because they will stagger themselves three to a block length. Why should I have to say "no" three times in three minutes? Also, they can be very aggressive.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Sometimes when I'm in a bad mood and approached by someone for money for a purpose that I consider to be inappropriate, I respond with a proposition.

If it's an attractive woman it's along the lines of what I would like to be doing in the chambre à coucher with her, or if it's a man, if he could arrange such for me at a reasonable cost.

trishlovesdolphins 6 years ago

Because it is annoying as hell to be walking, especially if you're carrying something or a child and have someone step in front of you with no warning making you stop. I don't donate ANY money to organizations on the street. It's too hard to pick out who is a scam and who isn't. I'd be FAR more likely to donate if they had a table set up and had literature to take, than just some random person stopping me on the street, where I could be in a hurry.

trishlovesdolphins 6 years ago

I mean, they could arrange to have jars put in local businesses. They could put up signs, there are a LOT more ways to do this than how they are now, and I would bet they'd have better success at it.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

you know what's even more annoying than being solicited?


trishlovesdolphins 6 years ago

Which is WHY you donate to charities that you're sure the money is going to the people it needs to go. I'm not saying don't donate, just that they way they're doing it is not helping. It's turning people off so they WON'T donate, and as other posters have said, little to no money is going to STC because they have to pay out to the contracting employees who are stopping people in the street. Stop being so dramatic.

NewbieGardener 6 years ago

Awesome. I completely agree. Before complaining, try walking 5 miles to fetch your water and live off less than $1 a day, then talk to me.

MrMEtoo 6 years ago

Talk to you about what? How you walk 5 miles to fetch water? You are a pretentious moron. I take my time to donate to reputable organizations. This organization poorly represents itself, and is wasting its money on intrusive employees.

Chelsea Kapfer 6 years ago

calling people names is just mean, does no good at all.

Bernadette Rose 6 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Cimmy Redmond 6 years ago

Agreed. My son is just learning to walk down the street on his own and I'm very obviously giving him all of my attention. I had one guy actually step between my child and me.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

"step in front of you with no warning making you stop."

What if you don't stop, collide with them, and land on top of them? It certainly wouldn't be your fault!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Sometimes I get lost in my own little world, and other times I'm not looking where I'm going!

Bob Forer 6 years ago

Regardless of the merits of a charity, I will never donate when solicited by an outside contracted agency, since (as pointed out in the article), most of the money contributed is swallowed up by the for-profit contracted agency. Therefore, whenever solicited, i always ask the solicitor if he or she is an employee of the charity, or a for-profit agency.

jafs 6 years ago

That's a good point.

We gave some money to those folks, but I would be disinclined to do so again, and more likely to just donate to the charity directly.

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

What an interesting experiment. I wonder if people are more inclined to give when a legit charity asks or when a downtrodden bum asks. On one hand, you get the satisfaction of seeing the beneficiary with the money in his hands though he may spend it on booze or cigs. On the other hand, you get the satisfaction of knowing that your money will be recorded and distributed by a professional whose job it is to ensure it reaches it predisposed destination, but this is taken only on assumption because you'll never see the result.

I would give to the bum. If a charity can gamble with a temp service that charges $13/hr to send out a worker who is paid <$8/hr, my thinking is that they can't be too hard-up.

When I was a panhandling wino, I made as much as $50 in a single hour and as little as $1 in a ten hour day. But, I certainly would not hire anyone to bum for me THe point being, if a wino had enough money to hire a surrogate, it would be preposterous to think that he needed your spare change.

locomotivebreath1901 6 years ago

Your logic is so flawed, I'm not sure where to begin. Or perhaps I cannot begin with someone who equates a worldwide, multi-million dollar, non-profit charity scrutinized by the IRS & independent auditing agencies VS someone who begs for beer money.

You're obviously another deficient product of gub'mint schools.

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

Hmm, work 1/4 days for full day's pay, un-taxed? Whose the idiot exactly?

Where did you go to school? Tell the truth if you are able.

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years ago

I would rather have 25 cents of my dollar go to a hungry kid than the full dollar enable a bum's drinking habit.

irvan moore 6 years ago

i'm concerned more by mr. schumm and his downtown lawrence cronies asking for handouts from the taxpayers

locomotivebreath1901 6 years ago

Private charity? How de classe.

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

How dare this private charity pester the uber-hip denizens of uber-liberal Lawrence, Kahn-sahs!

It breaks their concentration from bilking the tax payers out of federal gub'mint subsidies for their city, doanjahknow?

ivalueamerica 6 years ago

It sounds to me like a bunch of guilty whiners who would rather have a starbucks every day than fork over a few pennies, then feel guilty because they have to confront their own selfishness.

If I do not want to give to a charity, I simply say no thank you, case closed. It does not hurt if I am asked a couple times.

Much ado about nothing from whiny babies.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

of course they hado, just as IVA has the right to question the morality of ignoring global crises while peddling away the personal pittance that could truly make the difference in the disenfranchised life of another human being, albeit probably very far away.

I'm not saying i don't engage in my own relatively selfish practices in regards to chronic consumerism in the US. But at least I'll own up to it instead of whining about people trying to point it out to me. (Not you per se, but rather those irked by the solicitors as referenced in the article).

gudpoynt 6 years ago

i'm not implying a moral obligation to give.

i'm implying a moral obligation to shut your whining yap when altruistic minded people are out trying to raise money for a good cause, and happen to annoy you a bit in the process. Get over it. (again, not you specifically, but rather the "royal you").

Kudos to you for being able to respectfully say no without incessantly whining about it.

ivalueamerica 6 years ago

I could care less if they buy starbucks, the issue is the get mad at the people working to help the poor because of their guilt. I love starbucks and buy it all the time, and if someone asks me for a donation, I see no reason to get my undies in a bunch over it..that was my point.

Bless your heart though.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

"get mad at the people working to help the poor"

They're not working to help the poor, they're doing it for money, it's just a job to them.

And I bet they get a commission on the donations they receive, and not a set rate per hour.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Well, why don't you just walk downtown and drop a twenty or so into one of these guys hands? I am sure you won't whine about it.

LadyJ 6 years ago

kusadgirl (anonymous) says… And I bet this charity has a CEO who makes millions a year just like the CEO of MADD.

Not near as much as the CEO of Planetaid, and very little of the money actually gets to the needy.

Michael Throop 6 years ago

Actually, a lot of charitable organizations pay people to perform fund raising. The Salvation Army often pays people to be bell ringers.The United Way of Greater Kansas City (not involved with the Lawrence group, which answers to the United Way office in Topeka) uses employer-contributed dollars to hire people to assist in the yearly fund drives. Organizations who back or opposes petitions and referenda hire temp works to get people to sign voter registration forms. It's hardly new.

jafs 6 years ago


I think the distinction is that this situation involves contracting the work out to a separate organization, with all of the extra costs that involves, rather than just hiring the people directly.

Michael Throop 6 years ago

I concur, and the United Way example may not be valid. The Salvation Army situation is; I believe they have day labor companies putting people in place at the bell ringing sites.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

You're right, they pay the Salvation Army bell ringers. I've often wondered if they actually collect more than they pay the bell ringers.

ksjayhawk74 6 years ago

ACORN did not hire temps to sign voter registration cards. They had some temps that did that on their own to make it look like they had done work so they could get paid. The suspected fraudulent forms were marked by the organization for the State Agencies to review.

missmagoo 6 years ago

All solicitors annoy me. It annoys me when they ring my doorbell, because it's always at the most inconvenient of times -- kids sleeping, guests over, half naked, etc. And no one ever takes no for an answer, including these people. I was approached by one while on Mass last week and I said no thank you, and he said "but you have children of your own..." Wow, yes I do sir, which I have to feed as well, and I also just donated a very large sum of money to the United Way and I don't carry cash. I feel like it is ridiculous that I had to explain to him why I wasn't donating. Perhaps if people solicited the correct way, it wouldn't be so annoying.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

It's always annoying when you are interrupted while guests are over and you're half naked!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

MarcoPogo? What's your problem? Invite them in!

d_prowess 6 years ago

I just feel bad for the handful of stores that operate right where these folks are standing. Often it seems like they are stationed at each mid-block crosswalk and you do get asked multiple times when strolling around Mass St. So I have seen people walk more quickly past them to try to avoid the conversation, which can hurt the business they stand in front of.
I don't think they shouldn't be collecting donations, but perhaps they should be asked to walk up and down the blocks so they at least don't have an impact on a particular store.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

Where has all the perspective gone?

Here's a thought experiment. If you are annoyed by the solicitors, what would you say to a family in Haiti to get them to understand your grievance, and how would you feel when making your argument?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

How about something like this:

I'd rather give $5 worth of food to you right now than to give some American $20 that I don't know will ever get to you.

And, did you know that the guy in charge of all this was paid $400,000 last year to give you food and other assistance? How much of that money did you get last year?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

And I'd feel pretty good when I was able to feed a whole family for only $5!

jafs 6 years ago

So do you give $5 to the Haitian family?

How do you do it directly, without middlemen?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

For anyone here in town, see my post below about the United Methodist Church. Although most of my giving is through the Jewish Temple in Topeka.

That's Tzedakah in Hebrew.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

How about understanding that distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars, to hundreds of millions of children across 6 continents, for thousands of different, specific causes, takes a little more organization than simply handing over $5.

If you want to hand over $5 to someone in need, be my guest. Do that every day for the rest of your life and you might make a miniscule dent in just one of the many major humanitarian crises around the world today.

But, if you want to make a significant impact, it's going to take coordination beyond that. If you want to actually solve large problems, it's going to take management by skilled individuals. It's going to take a multi-faceted approach to fund raising, which may include.... dare I say.... hiring a professional organization that specializes in such things, whose tactics might include... dare I say... .soliciting donors on the street.

Call me crazy, but I get the impression that those who run STC are a bit more versed in the logistics of providing large scale humanitarian aid than you, me, or anybody else here.

jafs 6 years ago

I'm still waiting to hear how Ron gives $5 directly to that Haitian family.

Of course, I'm pretty sure he doesn't do that at all.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Tzedakah has no administrative costs, since it's a Jewish system of thought that means giving directly.

jafs 6 years ago

That's great.

How much have you given those Haitian families so far?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Oh damn, I didn't do that. The only thing I did in the last few months was spot a friend in need $390 so she could cover the rent for her and her little boy.

Well, there was a bunch of driving someone around a lot too, but I quit doing that when I realized I was being scammed for my generosity.

jafs 6 years ago

That's also great.

But, it's much harder to implement direct giving to folks who are far away, in other countries.

I think that's gudpoynt's point, although he mixes it up a little bit.

jafs 6 years ago

But he's right, of course, that it would be better if all of the money donated went directly to those who needed it.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Tikkun Olam in Hebrew means "to repair the world" or "perfecting the world." It is a core Jewish belief that it's our responsibility to heal the world.

But we can only do it one small bit at a time, and there's simply not enough Jews to take care of all the world's needs.

jafs 6 years ago

Jews, of which I am one, are not the only folks who believe in repairing or healing the world.

And some of them do it by donating to charities that work in other countries.

If you choose to give in your immediate vicinity, that's great, but why put those down who choose to offer help to a wider variety of people?

50YearResident 6 years ago

Why would a National Chairty put people on the streets of Lawrence Kansas? These guys have to be scammers. Has any City Official checked to authenicate that they are even connected to Save The Children? My personal opinion is "Save the Children" is one of the biggest scam organizations ever thought up. Tell me this, what percentage of collections actually get to any kids? I bet it's under 2%. If anyone knows, post it here.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

kusadgirl, there's another factor: The Salvation Army hires people that really need some extra money to be bell ringers.

Shaun Hittle 6 years ago

50YearResident, For what it's worth, I spoke to a rep. from Save the Children, and he confirmed that they hired a company called Grassroots, Inc., to do the fundraising that's going on in downtown Lawrence. Two non-profit analysts I talked to gave STC very high grades in general, but raised some concerns about this specific type of fundraising.

Shaun Hittle LJW Reporter

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

That's not an answer to the question: "what percentage of collections actually get to any kids?"

ECM 6 years ago

All the analysis on how this charity and others can be found on Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator, is America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities. Very helpful.

jafs 6 years ago

Thanks - that's very useful.

It looks, from a quick glance, like about 90% of revenue goes towards the actual recipients of the charity.

Overall, it gets a 4 star (out of 5) rating.

equalaccessprivacy 6 years ago

Street harassment is the offensive norm in this backwoods town! It gives Lawrence a bad quality of life when residents do not feel safe using the public space because the locals all seem to have been ignorantly raised to think they have the standing and competence to approach complete strangers and and in singular yahoo fashion offer "assistance". Civilized people have been raised to become suspicious of strangers who get too personal too quickly. If you have been raised to mindlessly approach strangers, consider that this aggressive soliciting and quite likely others would appreciate being spared your backwoods, presumptuous ignorance. Get a clue! Ignorance and aggression scares people. Get a lawyer. People who can't keep their hands to themselves deserve to arrested and thrown in the slammer--your reward for thinking you're God's gift and it's strangers' duty to show you appreciation. A completely fake drama I refuse to participate in--what kind of charming folks confuse the definitions of help and harassment?

dogsandcats 6 years ago

I had the misfortune of parking my car in that block one time. Dude wouldn't leave me alone as I unlocked my car, put my stuff inside, and got in. Had to say no I wasn't interested several times, yet he even yelled after me as I pulled out of the parking space. Will check to see if they're out there first before parking there again. I don't know what he was trying to achieve, did he think I was going to say: "oh wait, since you're being such a jerk about it, I change my mind and will definitely give money to some dude on the street with a clipboard!"

dogsandcats 6 years ago

I had the misfortune of parking my car in that block one time. Dude wouldn't leave me alone as I unlocked my car, put my stuff inside, and got in. Had to say no I wasn't interested several times, yet he even yelled after me as I pulled out of the parking space. Will check to see if they're out there first before parking there again. I don't know what he was trying to achieve, did he think I was going to say: "oh wait, since you're being such a jerk about it, I change my mind and will definitely give money to some dude on the street with a clipboard!"

ksarmychick 6 years ago

Probably the same guy I had to deal with....we were stopped by him as I was letting my daughter ride the merry-go-round in front of the antique mall and I told him no, we rode the merry-go-round, and then when we turned around to leave the same guy started his whole speech again like he hadn't just talked to me and then followed me to my car. To me this is harassment. I shouldn't have to tell them more then once to leave me alone.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

There are some people who have a problem with short term memory loss, similar to Alzheimer's. Maybe he really didn't remember that he had already approached you.

I tend to doubt that, though. It's much more likely that there were a few extra chemicals in his brain.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

Another thought experiment. If you support the soon-to-be private non-profit structure of the Kansas Arts Commission, would you also support similar solicitation efforts by them in order to make up for lost state and federal funds?

The more that programs rely on private donations, the more those programs have to step up their solicitations. Directly doing so on the street is one tactic. Direct phone calls and bulk mail are two others.

Is an increase in these practices welcomed by those who favor changing the funding structure for social programs and charities to a more privatized model?

Shaun Hittle 6 years ago

The_Big_B, I spoke with Ms. Styron for about 45 minutes on this topic. And, from what she said, she seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the accounting of non-profits. She mentioned some of the issues you bring up, and was very sophisticated in describing the metrics they use to analyze a non-profit. I was skeptical of STC's claims about how they calculated where the money goes. I spent several hours reviewing their IRS forms. It is pretty complicated, but all the folks I spoke to who know a lot about this said their statements look fine.

As I recall, they're required to list the soliciting activities in "fundraising." But again, any lay person just looking at the IRS forms would be lost. It's a pretty complicated form when dealing with such a large non-profit.

Hope that gives some perspective.

Shaun Hittle LJW Reporter

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

What was the proportion of the total that actually got to the people in need, expressed as a percentage?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

"they don't show the cut taken by the for-profit fundraising company, which could be nearly all of it"

I suppose it's easy to get an "A" by using that method.

jafs 6 years ago

Again, check out charitynavigator.

Looks to me as if fundraising expenses are clearly listed, and taken out of the percentage that goes to the recipients of the charity.

jafs 6 years ago

According to charitynavigator, it's about 90%.

Check it out - it's a very cool site.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

So 90% of the money never got to the intended destination.

Here's a real deal for you - you give me a dollar, and I'll give you ten cents back!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Well, maybe I got that backwards. But I don't trust them anyway.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

of course you don't.

Why on earth would you trust Save the Children? The name alone is enough to send chills down your spine.

I swear, the Republican party has outdone itself at selling fear and unwarranted skepticism to their constituents.

Amesmb 6 years ago

Some further reading about the organization:

I respect what they're trying to do and know they probably catch a lot of flack from people, but when I was confronted by one not long ago he was a too bit aggressive. If you say, "No, thank you," and keep walking then they should just let you go.

jafs 6 years ago

If they're aggressive, report it to the police.

I imagine that the aggressive panhandling ordinance might apply, or something else.

50YearResident 6 years ago

How do we know if the money collected gets to Save the Children? Donations might be funding these unknown solicitors own agenda whatever it is. Why would a World Wide Organization have cash collections on the streets of Lawrence, Kansas? Someone please provide some answers.

Shaun Hittle 6 years ago

I think that's a question with not a great answer. But here's my take:

What STC gets out of it (based on a conversation with their rep): If they net any money, it's a plus. And if they break even, they also gain name recognition and have identified donors who may be willing to donate in the future.

On the other end, some college-age kids make extra money. And, the contract agency presumably makes a profit.

So, I can see the motivation all the way around, but as mentioned, not the most efficient way to raise money.

Shaun Hittle LJW reporter

50YearResident 6 years ago

OK, I am beginning to see the light here. They (STC) don't care if they get any cash from this. The solicitor gets to keep what they collect as their pay but in return they must get names, credit card numbers or checking account and whatever identification they can get from the contributors so Save the Children can add them to their sucker list and harrass them for more donations several times a year. I read some of their company information and in very clear wording it said "pledges" can "NOT" be cancelled. So when they catch you in a weak moment and you pledge money, they hold your feet to the fire until you pay. Also small pledges are charged immediately to your phone bill or your credit card with no a no cancellation clause. I don't think I will be making donations to this type of marketing company.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Please correct me if I am proven wrong!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

""pledges" can "NOT" be cancelled"

True, true, and true, without going into details.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

"All solicitors annoy me. It annoys me when they ring my doorbell, because it's always at the most inconvenient of times ..." ===== I agree; I don't respond most of time. Ignore them and they go away. Another tactic: open the inner door and let them know you are going to let the dogs loose. The ultimate, if its some religious nuts......come to the door with bloody hands and tell they you just sacrificed a goat....."You folks want to help us eat the heart raw?" We all give in our own ways, but there are lots of ways to give money, compassion and time to those in need without coughing up money on the street.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Made_in_China, What is probably the ultimate way to deal with some religious nuts is to tell them you're Jewish.

After that very few will go any further, because just about all missionaries have instructions to be polite, but quickly move on to the next door because converting a Jew is just about impossible.

boxers_or_briefs 6 years ago

All kidding aside....I've just gotten into the habit of asking them how much they've contributed and I'll match it. So far I haven't donated a penny.

countrygirl 6 years ago

The guy that stopped me wanted an on-going contribution that they either charged to a credit card or your bank account. With no way of knowing if this was legit or not, the answer was no. Plus I really don't care to be confronted (and it felt like a confrontation) while running a quick errand. Someone really needs to check into the tactics and aggressive nature of this bunch.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Solicitors have to have a license. Do these people have one they can display as legitimate from the City of Lawrence, City Hall or the Police Department?.

kernal 6 years ago

As stated towards the end of the story, non-profits don't have to have a license to solicit money.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Oh, really? How do we know they are legitimate non-profits? So you are telling me if I go downtown and say I am collecting for the American Heart Association, nobody can question me if thats really what I am collecting for? I think I just discovered a loop-hole for all the panhandlers of Lawrence. Go get em, guys........

50YearResident 6 years ago

Oh, wait....They are already doing it in the name of "Save the Children".

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

"The guy that stopped me wanted an on-going contribution that they either charged to a credit card or your bank account."

The criminal element in me is saying that would be a good time to have someone else's checking account number or credit card information handy!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

And then, let 'Save the Children' defend themselves in court.

jafs 6 years ago

It's pretty easy to say no to that request.

I just gave them some cash, and got a receipt.

Most charities, including the Humane Society, like to get an ongoing monthly pledge - it's nothing unusual in the charity world.

50YearResident 6 years ago

How many reciepts are these people downtown writing? I am guessing, none.

jafs 6 years ago

That's where we donated, and where we got the receipt.

As I said.

Richard Payton 6 years ago

A concept for a new video on you tube could be Downtown solicitors verse's Walmart shoppers. The premier could be at Liberty Hall.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

In other news:

"Young Haitian earthquake victims launch fundraiser to relieve irked downtown Lawrence shoppers, business owners."

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

Interesting site; here are the ones who are broke. STC seems to score pretty well with these folks.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

In other news:

"Downtown shoppers' gluttonous consumerism interrupted by grim reality of malnourished children"

50YearResident 6 years ago

The children shouldn't be too malnourished as the net collections in 2010 was $452,000,000 (thats 452 million for those of you that didn't pass math. I have to admit that figure is only the amount turned in as income.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

you should go explain that to them then.

better yet, you should be in charge. Philanthropic organizations could really use a tough-as-nails, no b.s., person like you, with an obvious in depth understanding of 3rd world humanitarian crises and global logistics.


gudpoynt 6 years ago

In other news:

"Annoyed Lawrence consumers vow to discredit Save The Children efforts, air grievances anonymously on the Internet."

Cimmy Redmond 6 years ago

My comments are not anonymous. My name really is Cimmy Redmond.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

In other news:

"On the Street: Which infringes more upon personal freedom: unwarrented solicitation by fundraisers or lack of access to clean water?"

gudpoynt 6 years ago

Although, I don't really consider it a non sequitur.

You see, lack of access to clean water is a very serious problem. But in our cozy town with perfectly fine tap water, it's hard to appreciate unless you take a step back and look at the larger picture.

And if you take that step back, whining about a handful of people out trying to raise money for Save the Children seems a little sill to me, that's all.

But I appreciate your digs.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

i suppose I should have preceded all of my sarcasm by stating that I live downtown and spend a large amount of my free time and expendable income there. I've been solicited by the redshirts 4 separate times, resulting in minimal interference in my daily life. Especially when, after telling them "No", I take a moment to reflect on the work they're doing and why they are doing it.

With this bit of personal experience, I feel absolutely justified in making fun of those who are more than willing to spend at least 5 minutes whining about a 30 second solicitation, and all the more so considering the contrast between the subject of the solicitation, and the relatively luxurious circumstances of the "victim" of the solicitation.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

you're probably right. Who knows, we might have already.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

In other news:

"Local mountain makers complain of molehill shortage."

verity 6 years ago

I find it interesting how the percentage of money actually being used for the intended charity, rather than for overhead, can be manipulated by using an outside agency to collect money.

My charitable contributions always go directly the the organizations of my choice and I do my research first. How do you know the money you give to someone on the street doesn't go directly into their pocket?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Quite a few years ago, I had a very short stint as a magazine salesman. Our job was to make it appear that we were soliciting for some sort of youth group, although we were always instructed to be very vague about exactly what time of organization it was. It was a magazine sales agency, and nothing more.

We had sales pitch that we called a spiel, that is, a short speech that we gave to any adult that answered the door. Of course, we had to have it memorized, and deliver it well.

One of the difficulties of the job was that some people would start very long conversations with us, and then we were in trouble, because people who did that never bought any magazines anyway. They just wanted someone to talk to.

When that happened, we were instructed to quickly excuse ourselves, and move on to the next house as quickly as possible. So, if you really want to get rid of a solicitor that wants you to give money, begin a very long conversation about anything and everything under the sun.

I guarantee you, it won't be a very long conversation at all.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

The_Big_B brought up an interesting point in a previous posting.

I was told by a former employee of an organization that solicited for 'The Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police' or some similar name, that they were paid a flat fee of $100,000 (at that time) for the right to make and collect telephone solicitations for them.

The flat fee was the same, regardless of how much money they actually collected. And, from what I was told, it was a very profitable business.

I could hardly believe him!

I had questions about how ethical that was, and I was told that $100,000 was more than 'The Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police' could collect any other way, and that by collecting money that way, they got more of an income than they could any other way.

Well of couse one day the phone rang, and guess who it was! I started to grill the person on the other end of the phone line - and he admitted all that was true!

Ethical man, I must admit!

But if anyone heard that call, he lost his job for sure.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

That brings to mind another "legal" "scam" that people see all the time and an amazing number of people contribute, thinking that they are doing someone some good by sparing just a bit of pocket change.

I'm talking about those cardboard stands that you commonly see in restaurants and other businesses, asking for spare change, usually quarters, for maybe "The March of Dimes" or some other charity. You are to insert your quarters or dimes into the stands to make your contribution.

But if you look closely, you will notice that it appears that someone has been stealing from the charity!

Here's the way it works: Someone pays a flat fee for the "right" to place a solicitation card in a business, and then they get to keep all the money collected. I don't know how much the flat fee is, but I'm guessing that it's about $25 a month, but I really don't know how much it is.

So, every once in a while, the person who placed the collection card there goes and collects all the change collected, and then pockets the money. Of course, he counts every last dime for tax purposes, you can count on that.

If you seriously want to donate to that charity, note the name and phone number from the card, it's printed right on it, and then send your donation directly.

But of course, no one ever does that. They just put their quarters in, and "feel good" about themselves.

verity 6 years ago

I've always wondered about those cards or collection jars on counters in businesses and just how much of that money actually got to where it's supposed to be going, but didn't know how it worked. Thanks for the information.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

OK, bell ringer time here.

If you are serious about donating to a charity that is truly going to help those in need, not have any overhead or highly paid executives pocketing a huge percentage of the donations, and already has in place a system and volunteers that are going to directly help those in need without any compensation, go to the United Methodist Church, and make a dedicated contribution there.

You do not have to go there or attend services, all you have to do is call and make an appointment with the secretary. Or, you can mail a check.

You do not have to be a member of the church, you do not have to be a believer, all you need to be is someone that wants ALL your money to go to those in need.

And, I'm not a member of that church, so I'm not trying to proselytize.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow, someone was deleted from the site. My following comment makes no sense without the preceding posting.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Actually, the thing to do is to look at it the way it is. For the people soliciting money, it's just a job. And maybe, it was the only job they could find since jobs are hard to come by these days.

So maybe, we should all give them a break.

H_Lecter 6 years ago

I imagine chloroforming them and then feeding some children would be frowned upon too.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

There's another method that works very well.

That's to point at your ear and look at them with a quizzical look. If that doesn't work, then use your backup plan - know how to use sign language well enough to sign "sign language," it's really very easy to sign that.

Then look at them for a moment, and walk away.

50YearResident 6 years ago

OK, this article is going to get a lot of attention. Where are the 131 previous posts? At this time, while I am reading the story they are missing. 7:55 AM, June 7, 2011

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

You need to click the "refresh" button to make them appear if they're not there at first.

I don't know why, but sometimes that happens on this site.

sissezz 6 years ago

oh jeez ... just say no and keep walking. its not that hard really...... or better yet dont even say anything just ..KEEP WALKING.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

That's very true. But the problem is that most people were taught to be polite, and to ignore someone is considered to be very rude.

And, there's the sympathy factor at play here, because you're being presented with a plea for help for starving children.

Of course, it would be much more effective if the starving children were right there, so you could take them somewhere to feed them!

winninteam 6 years ago

You Lawrence people are sick and selfish! Listen to yourselves.

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