Homeless/Begging Beat-Up

I’ve not written anything for a while, mainly because of my move to Christchurch changing my focus on various things; particularly getting back into my old passion – photography, check my Instagram.

Anyway, over recent weeks I’ve noticed more beat-ups against homeless and people begging on the streets; sure, there’s been beat-ups before, but there’s a new wave of this happening throughout the country and, quite frankly I’ve had enough of it.

As some of you will know I have always been supportive of people who don’t have what others have, those who struggle to find housing and those who struggle to make ends meet. And, before you say “but it’s their choosing” – stop!

Who chooses to be homeless? Sure, there may be a handful of people who prefer not to have a fixed abode, but they are few and far between.

And, to those who say beggars are only doing it to finance their drugs and alcohol – I call bullshit on this; yes, there are some that do that, but again they are few and far between.

Since being in Christchurch, just like when I was in Auckland, I have gotten to know some of the local street people and, what a great bunch they are; actually, I’ve reconnected with a couple of bods I knew from Auckland.

Now, back to the beat-ups, Auckland retailers are tired of them on the street, sure some can be a right royal pain in the butt, but why aren’t retailers just going up to them and asking them nicely to move on rather than being heavy handed and calling security patrols or police? A little polite dialogue can work wonders and earns respect for all concerned.

Now I’ve also read recently about community space design that seem to be done in a way to deter people from loitering, street furniture made in such a way that people can’t lay down; spikes on edges of buildings, sprinklers in doorways; aren’t we a great lot that we would sooner do things to deter than to face people and talk about any issues.

In Christchurch recently while talking with a couple of the street people, we were approached by the boys in blue and asked to move on; actually, more precisely they were asked to move on. They were sitting on seats installed for public use; so in my mind had every right to be there.

These cops told the guys to move or they would be moved on for trespassing. Me being me, I couldn’t bite my tongue and asked if this applied to me as well; no they said, only the street people, well, that made my blood boil. That, as I pointed out to the constabulary was profiling and discrimination, I was asked to shut up, and to mind my own business. Um, it is/was my business.

Eventually the cops relented and moved on. We won.

Just the other week, again I was talking with a chap on the street I have gotten to know, when someone from a security firm came along and told him he had to sit at least one metre from any shop frontage. When I asked if this was council policy or a council bylaw, I was immediately asked for my name, address, and date of birth, yea right, I ain’t giving this to anyone other than the police. This person tried to tell me she had every right to ask and that I was in breach of some law for not providing it. Um, sorry, you’re wrong I said. She then demanded to see some form of proof of identity, I told her no way, that she had no legal right to request that.

She got all huffy and was about to call the police for assistance, I even offered to make the call myself, lucky for her someone else from the company came along and defused the situation.

And, now, just over this last weekend I read a thread on Facebook, where someone was asking what help she could offer to a newly found young woman sleeping rough. While most people offered sound advice, one person chimed in saying that asking for help for a woman was sexist, that homeless men are more at risk on the street than a single woman. Well, again I had to call bullshit on this.

I have seen and spoken with women sleeping rough who have been exploited, used as sexual pawns.

We all need to understand our homeless, we need to get to know them and offer them any help we can. This help could be as simple as getting to know them, offering them help when they need it, steering them to the right agencies. Remember most people are only a few pay cheques away from being in the same boat.

What will you do to help those living rough?

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak

After reading 10 TRAITS OF TERRIBLE MAJOR AND LEGACY GIFT FUNDRAISERS and seeing some comments, with one in particular referring to the show up and throw up fundraiser, it reminded me on a couple of “professional” fundraisers I have met.

Their modus operandi was to make an appointment with a potential supporter and talk the whole way through the meeting, the wouldn’t give the person they were speaking with the opportunity to talk.

They also forgot the old expression “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” – yes, they really did like the sound of their own voice.

Often when speaking with them about why they weren’t gaining support, they would say that they had no idea why people weren’t attracted to the organisation; after all they had talked about the successes of the organisation, how it was meeting goals, how important the staff were. But, they didn’t talk about the beneficiaries of the organisation, nor did they talk about current supporters and how they gained from being associated with the organisation.

I recall helping some organisations gain new major sponsors in a nice simple way. We invited some current major sponsors and some we were trying to woo to meet with us. All we did was give an update as to what we had been doing, some of our successes. Then we invited the current sponsors to talk about why they were supportive, what they were doing and let them answer any questions the prospective sponsors had.

At the end of the meeting, two of the prospective sponsors pulled out their cheques books and signed up, the third did the same a few days later.

You don’t have to be the one doing all the talking, actually you should be keeping your mouth shut as much as possible, let the prospects ask questions, and if you can get current supporters to pitch for you.

It works, why not give it a shot.

And, remember – less is more.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”

The Red Pen Challenge

We all write to donors from time to time, we know we need to communicate with them, to keep them informed about what’s happening. But, are we watching how we include them in the messages?

Often messages are full of “I”, “We”, “Us, there’s little use of “You” “Your”.

So here’s a wee test from Marc Pitman – The Fundraising Coach you can do to check your content.

Will you take the Red Pen Challenge?

Do the test and see how you score.

I’d be keen to know your results – share them in the contents below.

Begging Ban

I was shocked to see on Stuff.co.nz that a building in Christchurch has now put up No Begging signage in a “effort” to move beggars on. The reasoning appears to be that there are a number of “professional” beggars, people who move into the area to solicit money when they don’t really need to be doing it.

What’s happening in our society when we label people without knowing the full story, some of the comments I have read online in regard to this particular article has shocked me; and then when I shared it on Facebook one person suggested that all beggars be exterminated, that they were rejects that society didn’t need. Someone also commented that beggars, homeless should be put into “secure” housing, when asked what was meant by this, the response was – jail, was this best option. Let’s hope these views aren’t shared by others.

OK, yes there are some people begging that can be a tad annoying, but it’s important that not all are tarred with the same brush; every one of them has a story, a reason for being on the street doing what they are doing. We should instead of banishing homeless and beggars, that we should be learning what has put them in the situation they are in and looking for ways to offer them the help they need to get on their feet.

There’s many organisations working to help homeless people throughout the country, and now we the Government ready with $100M to fight homelessness. All we need now is for the rest of us to understand why people are on the streets and offer support where we can.

Do beggars annoy you, do you want to see them banned from the streets?

Bigger Isn’t Always Best

We’ve all seen them, the oversized cheque used to show how much has been raised or donated. I’ve often wondered about their purpose, especially those used in photo-ops which only show the recipient, ignoring the donor.

And even worse are the cheques that are used repeatedly with the tell-tale sign of previous amounts donated still visible under the new amount.

So after reading the piece from Greg Warner I thought it worthwhile to share what he has said in “Is it time to banish photos of fundraisers and oversized checks?” and Greg’s follow up piece is worth a read too, both I’m sure will get you thinking and wondering if you are doing it right, or if you could change how you use the “oversized cheque”.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, are these oversized cheques beneficial, do the ignore the donor, is the cheque about you or your donor?

Leave comments below please.

Absence

Well, again it’s been a while since I have been posting anything consistently. But, that’s about to change.

I have been focusing on other things, now that they are out of the way I can start with some regular posts.

If there’s anything I have previously written you would like addressed again, or if there’s anything you would like to see me write about – scream out and I’ll do what I can.

So, expect to see regular posts again, I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts, insights and other missives about the charity / non-profit sector.

See you soon.

Graeme

Graeme

Tele-Fundraising, Big Oops

You may have read the recent news item about how people being called to support an organisation were treated less than would have been “proper”.

I’ve managed several tele-fundraising teams, and as soon as I’ve heard a conversation that was less than ideal, I would pull the person off the phone and have a chat with them about their manner – after all they are representing the organisation, they’re essentially an ambassador for the organisation and every call should leave the recipient feeling good about it.

What’s more, why weren’t the calls referred to in the article picked up by someone who would likely have been doing random call monitoring?

Call monitoring is an important part of tele-fundraising, it helps ensure the right message is being delivered, that the agent is up to date with any new “stories” that can be used, and, yes, it would definitely pick up any agent who was misrepresenting the organisation or being rude to a person they were calling.

As soon as something is picked up, the agent should be pulled off the phone and the issues discussed, perhaps they need some additional training, maybe they have personal issues outside of the workplace they are dealing with; whatever, there should never be any instance where an agent is rude.

I don’t know why this issue wasn’t picked up sooner, it should have been and the organisation has let itself down.

Charity and the language we use…

Just came across this piece from RSM – and thought it a good piece to share, it’s worth the read.

What’s in a word or a phrase?  Well sometimes a lot.  Whether we appreciate it or not much of the language we use carries considerable extra weight and meaning due to history, perceptions, and baggage connected with it.

I was fortunate a while back to attend a seminar by Vicki Sykes on the topic of Business acquisition in the community sector in New Zealand.  Vicki is an interesting speaker and after 17 years as a CEO of a South Auckland charity she followed her passion to step back and do a University thesis on the topic of her presentation.

One of the quotes that Vicki used (and forgive me for not knowing to whom this should be attributed) was:

“Remember that being a charity is a tax status; not a business model.”

That line struck me as powerful.  One because of its simplicity.  But perhaps more so due to it making me question my use of the word charity.  There are so many assumptions we attach to a word.  These are built up over time and become unquestioned.  But when we sit back and consider them, sometimes we see that maybe these assumptions and perceptions we attach to a word can hold us back.

When I ask others, especially businesspeople, about the word charity as it relates to organisations, there seems to be a common understanding that this is an organisation that does good.  People understand that they exist to serve some social or community benefit.  The word charity is also associated with giving without expecting anything in return.  A very noble attribute.

Yet these understandings or assumptions about the word charity when considering a charitable organisation also seem to blinker some people in their attitudes towards the organisation and how it operates.

Keep reading here

What are your thoughts?

QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

On my way back from Christchurch to Auckland recently I got to talking to a couple seated next to me on the plane. They were intrigued by the book I was reading – Chapter One – we ended up have a good conversation about charity giving and the orgnisations they support.

So, seeing this from Greg Warner at Market Smart, is timely, and it covers exactly what the couple and I were talking about.

3 QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

  1. “What did they do with my money?”
  2. “Would my money yield more impact if I gave it to another organization?”
  3. “Do they make me feel good or bad?”

 

They said that they often feel some level of concern after making a contribution, mainly around whether the money they have given is going to the right organisation and that it will be used wisely and for the purposes the organisation said they needed support.

Do your donors have confidence in how you are using the support they are giving you, how do you allay any concerns they may have?