Di Flatt's Blog

They might not be popular, but we need face to face fundraisers
May 30, 2012, 6:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

(as featured at http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/blog/)

This week I was reading a thread of comments on LinkedIn about street fundraising. It became quite heated, with strong opinions, and many valid statements throughout the debate on whether street fundraising is good or bad.

It made me really think about not only how we work, but how we support each other in our fundraising efforts. I am happy to state that I personally do not like street fundraising, but equally I don’t like inserts in newspapers and magazines, or door drops that litter my letterbox (in fact inserts and non personalised charity appeals usually end up in my bin!).

However, regardless of my personal likes and dislikes, as a fundraising professional I keep all of these and all other methods in my fundraising toolbox. WHY? Well because they work. They are business tools that allow me and my fundraisers to deliver our primary objective – to generate income to allow my charity to deliver services and create a better future for our beneficiaries.

Love or hate the ‘marmite’ of our profession we know that it works. It sits within the ready list of ‘no brainer’ activities we can draw upon to increase number of donors and income.

Whichever tools are my least favourite I won’t slate them. Because surely that would devalue, not only the particular discipline, but fundraisers, fundraising, and ultimately the charities and the sector itself.

Unfortunately street fundraising gets bad press: from those outside of and from those within the fundraising profession. Not surprising when it is always the bad apples that get the press inches – nothing new there, it makes for a juicier news story!

However, I also wonder if some people just don’t want to have the needs of others put under their nose. Always easier to keep our blinkers on I know. Guilt is a mean feeling that we want to keep at bay… and those street fundraisers do put it right out there under our noses – no wonder we often pull our blinkers tighter and walk right on by!

Yes we know it works. And yes whilst most street fundraisers behave courteously and appropriately there are unfortunately a few that let the side down. As a sector we have worked hard together to redress this, working with IoF, PFRA, and FRSB. We will continue to do so.

It saddens me when anyone devalues this fundraising tool and therefore the potential contribution of the ‘man/woman on the street’, by slating face to face street fundraising. You will note that I refuse to use the portmanteau of charity and mugging in this text – this is not a term to embrace but one to throw out of our sector’s vocabulary, in my humble opinion.

We need street and door fundraising. It is an ideal way to reach the masses who may not otherwise seek out or hear about the important work our charities are doing.

I’m about to undertake a door to door test campaign. It will generate a return of almost 300% over five years. And that’s without calculating income that will continue beyond five years. A 300% financial return to deliver services is an easy choice.

As my esteemed sector colleague Sean Triner said just the other day (during the LinkedIn debate I refer to): “… I am a fan of face to face. Nothing in modern times has added more money to charity coffers to make the world a better place than this technique. It has got an entire new generation of people who didn’t give, giving. People aged 30-55 are not donor age, yet give millions.” I wholeheartedly agree with Sean.

I think that our job is to give our various audiences what they want once we have managed to engage with them. It doesn’t matter whether that engagement is achieved through inserts, telephone, door drops, internet, face to face, street, door or chance meeting in a lift. Until we respect all these channels to engaging new audiences we will be missing out on potential supporters and donors from all walks of life.

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