Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, 17 Barker Road, Lebanon, CT, 06249

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Majestic Diary

May 5, 2009

It has been a hard couple of weeks. Although we had a wonderful visit with Omalie the duck and his parents (he perches on his Momma's arm--I have never seen anything like it before!), we have also had some hard dealings with other people who have been less than honest with us, as you have already read. Still, I refuse to let them get to me or affect our sanctuary and our beautiful animals.

We had someone who has been boasting about a state-to-state fundraiser she was going to do for us including one here in Connecticut. She told us that we were the beneficiary for 10% of those funds and that when she came to CT, we would get all of the proceeds. When it came down to sending checks though, she quickly notified us that although her events were "so successful," after paying for her flights and expenses, no proceeds were left to donate. After a while, she changed her focus to promising us “big exposure.” We didn’t buy that one either.

We have done a lot of newspaper articles, television, magazines and the only one that ever really helped us was the Humane Society who featured us in their national magazine: All Animals. They were very professional and allowed us to final edit the copy and fact check everything to ensure the right message went out. Every other dealing we have had with newspapers and television has resulted in either poor editing, misquotes, shortened quotes that made no sense, or taking what we say entirely out of context. We have learned to avoid the press. Besides, none of these venues have ever led to donations. People read it or watch it and then move on. Most of our supporters find us all on their own. Proven by the fact that this woman has been passing out our brochures at all of her events and not one single person has contacted us as a result (which is exactly why we would not pay for their printing; we have already learned that people just throw them away).

So anyway, she starts drumming up the publicity for her fundraising event here in Connecticut and partway through we discover that she’s using our name to get free food (and who knows what else) for her event, saying that Majestic will be getting the proceeds. But let’s pause here for a moment… I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago she called me and knowing that I’ve been out of work for a year asked if we or Majestic would help pay for her flight from California to Connecticut. I told her there was no way on Earth I would ever give any of the funds people have donated for the care of our ducks and geese to pay for her plane ticket. No way. And that was really the moment that I began to have serious second thoughts about her. She had moved from the territory of:  big promises not delivered  to:  con artist. And when I declined, she quickly claimed to be receiving another call from someone who might pay her ticket and hung up (promising to call right back, which she never did).

So… back to the PR… we’ve been working on what could potentially be a very beneficial fundraiser with a local organization and then she called on the same business and used our good name to get FREE food for her event--without our permission. Since this organization likes to spread their efforts around, they may rule us out for the BIG fundraiser because they have now provided free food for her silly event. I was floored. But that’s not all. Unbeknownst to us, proceeds from her fundraiser “for Majestic,” were also going to be split with a local parrot group… so this is not really “our” fundraiser after all. She was being deceptive the entire time.

We contacted her last night and let her know that Majestic has pulled from the event and she is not to use our name in association with her event—especially not to get any PR or free goods. As I told her, it is very dishonest to these businesses to request free items and claim that funds are going to Majestic, when we have not rec’d any proceeds from any of her prior events, and expect the same result from this one as well. We find this deception completely unethical and a poor business practice. This is not how we operate. Not at all. It’s how she operates though. She told me: “I do not take NO for an answer and will push and push until I get what I want.” Apparently that also includes lying about donating to charities when she is really in the hole by $3000 and not donating any money at all.

As it turns out, this fundraiser is really not a fundraiser for us after all, it is an event to help her gain exposure and the PR that she generates by using our name only helps herself. There are no real donations in it and there is no useful press for us either. She is just riding on the backs of others for her own shameless gain.

We absolutely knew we were on the right track when we explained why we had no choice but to back out and she immediately broke into a rant that left her breathless. And then she had the audacity to say she NEVER promised Majestic any proceeds from any of her events. She said she only put out a tip jar for us. I told her to check her emails because I never deleted any of hers and I have it from her that she was planning to donate 10% of her overall proceeds to us. Then I clarified and said: “Understand, this is not about money. I understand that you’re fundraiser is in the hole by $3000, but this being the case, you are acting unethically when you approach businesses for gratis supplies under the supposition that you will be donating part of your proceeds to Majestic.”

Sorry, lady. We’ve played this game before. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice… not about to happen. She is not the first one to come knocking on our door with her own agenda foremost in her mind.

She flipped out and would hardly let Tony or I get a word in edgewise. We would get in a half a sentence and then she would cut us off again. Then she got so worked up she hung up on herself.

When she called back, I refused to talk to her. I don’t know about you, but when someone puts up a fuss that loudly, I figure they’re doing it because they’re backed in a corner and have no where else to go. She is a slick PR person who once told me that she never takes no for an answer, she just keeps pushing and pushing until she gets what she wants. And we have seen from experience that one of her tactics is to fail to tell the whole truth and mislead people for her own gain and shameless self-promotion. Well, her tactics failed on us. We told her we were done and out of the project.

She kept saying that it was rude of us to tell her this late in the game after she bought plane tickets (which someone else might have actually paid for), but Tony wouldn’t let her get his sympathies, especially since I have seen her itinerary and Majestic is not in it. She is using the trip to speak at some parrot groups and she is meeting with some other people we know to do some research for one of her upcoming projects. So if she thinks she’s fooling us that WE are the only reason she’s coming to CT, she is kidding herself—and we told her so. Tony was all calm and cool and collected and he told her she could still fly in for the event since it was to raise money for other groups as well, they could now have our share of the proceeds (if there are any), so all was not lost. She didn’t really have anything to say to that and ended the call.

And at the end of that call was when she finally revealed that Majestic wasn’t even going to be “splitting” the proceeds with a parrot group. Oh no, it had dropped all the way down to 25%. So do a little math now, shall we?  If she fills all 200 seats (which is highly unlikely) at $15 and $8 goes to the hosting establishment, that means $7 per person remains, which equals $1400, which is $350 per group when split four ways. Well, $350 unless she does what she always does at every other event, and that is to first deduct her plane ticket and expenses, in which case, we are talking about $700 split four ways which equals $175 each. Okay, now minus out our baby-sitting expenses for the day and a 3 hour round trip drive (fuel and mileage). Hmm… that’s less than $100 for our sanctuary AND we would have to work at her event, greeting people and selling tickets and waiting on people, setting up and cleaning up afterwards. So for $100 we could be away from our sanctuary for the entire day, falling behind on our work and missing out on the summer sunshine to be inside with a bunch of people who will most likely forget all about us as soon as the event is over (unless they need us for something someday).

Is all this trouble really worth a $100 donation and some “big exposure.” I’d just assume donate my own $100 and stay home with my family and my ducks, and that is exactly what I’m going to do!


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