Thursday, 29 August 2013

Charity is the new double glazing

Everyone has met one, a young, strangely dressed over enthusiastic person asking for cash for a worthy charity. these people up everywhere. They try to get your attention while while you walk through town, dinner time at your door and charity begs cash off you while you watch the telly.   You probably didn't give your bank details or a couple of quid a month to yet another worthy cause trying to take our hard earned money, and you suspect not many people do. I almost become one of those people you dread seeing, I went for a two day interview with a company who are experts in getting your cash.

I walk into a grotty office in a back street with a bunch of young smiley hopefuls. The text tells me it's a casual interview, and the kid conducting it is wearing shorts so far down his bum I want to yank them up. I don't feel so bad about wearing a casual dress and trainers. We are asked to sell another hopeful for the job; we have a shy Northerner, kids desperate to work between travels, a quiet student and I'm paired up with a bubbly, ex bar manager complete with trendy glasses and dangerously short dress. She's easy to be be kind about, as she has a bit of sparkle  she is also obviously capable and very bright. We also have to think of a problem and solution and persuade the group it's a good idea. Being a compulsive talker and able to fake confidence, I am told I have the job.

So leaving my kids home alone (always dangerous) I go to my first day at work. The day is part of the interview. We are asked to draw a pig, being slightly arty I enjoy drawing an alarmingly manic looking pig with landscape and flowers. A shifty looking man scribbles his out and is asked to leave, I wonder if his refusal to draw a pig was why.

Apparently my wacky offering full of detail says I'm suspicious but realistic,  the dodgy psychology might have a point.  After having our art and personalities analysed  we are given a script and get a long explanation from the serious but entertaining manager. The script a hefty document . The script is cleverly written to push emotional buttons, start conversation and get the bank details, I'm impressed, I want to try this. The manager is also impressive, he holds our attention, and has great social skills and lots of charisma. I write on the script you have to give your heart, soul and liver. Now I've had tough sales jobs and I have given my smile, been entertaining and given my time and energy to a job, but my heart, that's mine.

The next day we learn the script and meet some employees. Then I recognize a familiar breed to me, the double glazing salesman, Now you might not like these chancres but as characters they are charismatic. They socialize, drink like fish and still get results get result shine. The typical double glazing salesman is they always happy and upbeat, they have a great work ethic and will sell anything asked.

I used to sit in an office and ring 200 people who didn't want to listen to me, my job was to get them to love me; I  wonder now longer in the tooth, with less energy and more cynicism I can pull this act off again. I suspect the pretty young drama student I'm paired with could pull this off, she reads the script like she owns it, is sincere yet cheerful and very credible, this acting part may earn her commission and get her face on the wall with all the other high earning stars.

I talk to some other employees, worried about spending late nights away from my kids. One tells me he rarely gets home before 10.30 and people knock on doors 100's of miles away. I realize this employer wants you to be married to this dicey living. It's a mix of idealism and cut throat sales I'm Not sure I can stomach. so I decide not to take the job.

The mix of sales and charity makes us all a little uncomfortable but this mix does save lives as well as give some people with great sales an interpersonal skills a living. The interview itself made me feel cheated.I wonder the two days was another script to persuade us to do a very difficult job and be at the offices beck and call. Maybe, like my drawing of the pig said I'm suspicious and realistic.

Before you turn another charity away, think about this, essential services depend on people generosity and people shoehorning cash out of us, is that right? According to this article in the(1) "The Third Sector " lots of us are very generous with 51% of Brits thing we should at least try to give time or money so maybe we need these bubbly hardworking people to persuade us to carry out our good intentions. Another point, it's the generous that give not those best able to give, so why can't money for people to die of cancer at home or help the homeless come from out taxes? So don't curse the next "chugger", do something, they have a difficult job, do something.

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