Prejudging in any situation can be bad, if not fatal. But when it comes to prejudging when it comes to fundraising it can cut out a significant section of the population who may wish to give, and unbeknown to the charity – have the ability to give.

Sure, there’s no issue with defining collection areas to ensure best reach, best bang for buck but, when it comes to not approaching a particular suburb or demographic it seems like madness. 

Remember in real estate ‘buy the worse property on the best street’ – perhaps by not approaching that particular house the charity will miss out.

Recently I’ve been taking particular note of street collectors and those out signing people up for causes, the almost haphazard approach has left me baffled.

Why? Simple, in the last few weeks I’ve noticed that I’ve not been approached my any, and it got me thinking is it me, or is there method in their madness?  So I set out recently with the purpose of observing who was approached and more importantly – who wasn’t. 

I hate to say it, but it almost appeared as though ‘race’ had something to do with it.

If you were a white middleclass male you were more likely to be approached, sure some women were approached but in the main it was male. Interesting given that in some research the suggestion is that it is women who make the ‘giving decision’. 

It’s accepted that not everyone can be approached but surely some extra effort wouldn’t go astray. 

When a large group of people are near by, it’s hard to work out who to talk to, but the effort has to be put into trying to talk to some of them, not just stand – txt friends, chat to one another – then wonder why no support has been gained. 

One person I observed was ‘stationed’ at a busy set of traffic lights – people stood waiting for the ‘cross signal’ were ignored. And they were standing right next to the person. The only ones approached were those crossing the road toward them – why? It makes no sense, there was a captive audience that was totally ignored. 

It’s not easy being out on the street raising awareness or funds, and time can seem to drag – but the more people approached and spoken with, makes the time seem to pass a little quicker. Not only that – but the people out doing the work for the charity or organisation will be seen to be doing their ‘job’. 

I’ve asked collectors and the likes how they select who they will approach, and have been staggered by the responses: 

“Depends if they’re on their own – if with others I don’t stop them”  Why not, if the person you stop doesn’t want to help, maybe one of the people with them might. 

“We can’t approach anyone under 21”  Why not? And how do you pick someone’s age? If the person is stopped and it turns out they’re not 21, you never know they may go home and talk about the organisation and support could be gained.

“If I’ve had a series of “no’s” I don’t stop anyone for a while”  Oh come on – celebrate every “no” it’s getting you closer to a “yes”.

Organization who have people out on the street should also have ‘mystery shoppers’ randomly checking how the people are doing, how they’re interacting with the public – are they doing their job – and are they doing justice to the organization?

Do you use street collectors, people to sign up to your organization – what training do you give them before sending them out? Are they reminded that they’re not only their to raise funds, but are also there to raise awareness of the organization – if not, why not?


One thought on “Don’t prejudge who will support

  1. After posting the above, I received the following in an email from Ellen at UNICEF which explains how they do things, I must say I’m impressed to see an organisation such as UNICEF not only taking the time to read the post, but to share who they do things."Our face to face fundraisers are employed directly by UNICEF NZ and we also undertake all their training – I thought you might appreciate some background around this in light of your observations and comments. "Our fundraisers are trained to approach people of all ages (except 21 and under and the elderly). They are taught not to discriminate and the majority of our fundraisers come from all over the world."We know from our demographic statistics that our fundraisers are signing up people of all ages and walks of life. We know from our statistics that the gender split is almost equal and the ages vary between 21-60. If our fundraisers are focussing on one age group or more males than females then we work with them to help them approach different people. It often comes down to the individual fundraiser feeling confident about who they approach. "We do train our fundraisers to not deliberately target people who appear to be under 21years old because we know from years of experience that they do not normally have disposable income. We will never stop anyone who is under 21 from signing up as a donor if they are keen to do so, but we find that they usually struggle financially to give a few donations and then can’t afford to continue. We want to be responsible and don’t want donors to get into any financial difficulties."One other thing to point out is that, in terms of approaching someone waiting to cross at an intersection, we do not encourage fundraisers to approach people within 20 meters of a crossing as it can be a safety hazard."You might already know that all charities involved in street fundraising must belong to the PFRA (Public Fundraising Regulatory Association) who prepare rosters of where charities can stand each day in the main cities and implement a strict code of Conduct for Street Fundraising ."In your blog you mention Mystery Shopping. The PFRA have just completed a Mystery Shopping survey for all the charities involved in street fundraising and it is positive to see that all charities had well trained, informed staff."Thanks again for your interest in UNICEF NZ and I hope this email has helped to explain how we approach street fundraising. As a charity, funded purely by voluntary donations, it’s really important to us that we can tell New Zealanders about the work of UNICEF and hopefully persuade a few to sign up as regular donors. Street fundraising is important in helping us to achieve these goals."Please email back if you have any further questions or comments. It is always good to get feedback."

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