Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Charity tags major donors with GPS tracker to monitor behavior

Tagged and bagged

Metro’s largest charity has launched a new study of its major donors using new GPS tracking technology. The new donor behaviour program by the Metro Trust Community Foundation will see biologists tranquilize, tag and then release donors who have given more than $50,000 in the three of the last four years.

“We want to know about our major donors – what they eat, where they sleep, their organizational structure when they travel in groups, and their mating habits,” said Foundation CEO Spooley Snidely. “Up until now, most of the studies in this field have been on major donors in captivity. We’ve never been able to track wild donors in their natural settings.”

A team of specially training biologists and planned giving officers will travel Metro over the next week looking for major donors. Each donor will be followed and observed before being shot with a harmless tranquilizer that will put them to sleep for several hours. Plans call for up to a dozen donors to be tagged.

“The tranquilizer dart won’t hurt them, just put them to sleep – unless they’re driving a car or operating a RV or something,” said Snidely. “They will wake up a little groggy in a nearby park with a metal collar wrapped around their neck and just go about their normal business as if nothing happened.”

The scientists will then track the donors’ behaviour using the GPS tracker on the neck band. They will be able to monitor donors in real-time everywhere they go in a 50 mile radius. Some of the tracking devices will also be able to transmit images and video.

Donors won't notice GPS collar
“For the first time, we’ll be able to see what they see as they live their lives in the wild,” said Snidely. “It’s very exciting. And kind of kinky in a strange, inappropriate way. Heh.”

In a pilot test project last month the Foundation tagged famous local philanthropist Vernon Moneybags while he was sitting in a posh restaurant downtown. Scientists then carried him to their lab where they placed the tag around his neck and then released him at a local fast food restaurant. They spent the next week tracking his every movement, from walking his dog to going to the bathroom.

“The insights we discovered from the pilot were amazing,” said lead scientist Dr. Dibble Brewer. “We found out that major donors don’t in fact spend all their time thinking about making another donation to the Foundation. They actually do other things, like comb their hair and watch The Price is Right.”

The pilot discovered that Moneybags doesn’t like receiving annual direct mail pieces from the Foundation. The grainy video clearly showed him complaining to his wife, his masseuse and his dog Fluffy about how the Foundation was trying to “suck more money out of him”. The pilot was cut short when Mrs. Moneybags called the police in to investigate the band around her husband’s neck which both of them hadn’t noticed for several days. It was later removed by the Metro Police Bomb Squad, taken to a remote location and detonated.

“The pilot program and the tagging operation have already yielded invaluable results,” said Snidely. “We’ve concluded that major donors really want us to send them even more direct mail and to call them more often for donations.”

The Foundation plans to extend the tagging programs to staff who visit the lunch room to see what they actually do.