I just met you, and this is crazy, but I’m here to fundraise, so donate maybe?

31 Jul

While Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy pop song has given hope that “Call Me Maybe” is enough to jump-start any relationship, we all know that meaningful relationships require a bit more effort. The relationship between fundraiser and donor is no different.

We’ve all been there before: walking down the street or out of the grocery store, when we come across someone hovering with a clipboard or sitting at a card table. We lower our head for fear of making eye contact, fake checking our watch for the time, or busily grab our phone to seem distracted and uninterested. However, we can feel the eyes of the solicitor stalking us like a lion to a zebra on the Serengeti.

“Hey! Let’s save the whales today! Get over here and talk to me!” they call out. We know that they are addressing us, but we pretend to be bewildered and “assume” that they are talking to the non-existent person behind us.

“Oh, you’re too good to talk to me! Whatever man!!” they taunt using guilt, the oldest manipulative trick in the book. A battle wars in our psyche that makes us want to shout back: “Seriously?!! That is how you reflect your organization? That’s not going to get me to open my wallet for you, Buster!”

Here’s the bottom line: this type of fundraising rarely works and is generally going to come off as more annoying than a sincere call to action. The 5 minutes of attempting to coerce shoppers into a relationship with your organization is hardly enough to give them information about your cause, let alone convince them to donate. Unless you’re standing by a red Salvation Army bucket ringing a bell during Christmas time, you’re not going to get more than a few dollars. The Salvation Army has established a long history and reputation in holiday giving, a random organization asking for donations the other 11 months out of the year in this manner will rarely be effective.

For less time, effort, rejection, and manpower, online fundraising can give you much better results. A busy storefront may have 50 passersby an hour, but the average Facebook account has 130 friends. Though not all Facebook users check their accounts daily, you still can reach 50 people with just a minute’s worth of time. Furthermore, you can add a link to your website, add a fundraising page, and have your donors share their donation with their social networks. It gives your organization credibility and makes the donor feel more secure about donating, while encouraging them to develop a continued and invested relationship with your cause.

Investing in and following up with donor relationships is extremely important. While you may get a dollar thrown your way through face-to-face solicitations, online fundraising allows you to retrieve information about your donor including their region and e-mail address, and encourages them to take part in promotion on social networking sites. This allows you to give a proper thank you, they can write their contribution off as a tax deductible donation, and you have the ability to send out future requests for upcoming campaigns. What started off as “donate, maybe”  has the potential to become an ongoing relationship.

One argument for making an ask on the street is that people can actually meet members of your charity in person. However, how many people actually stop and talk to the people manning the clipboard? They are few and far between. A better way could be to post a video interview or tour on your website or fundraising page for potential supporters to take in the heart of your vision, while giving a face to your cause.

So the next time you exit the grocery store and someone tries to ask you for a dollar simply smile, compliment their efforts, and offer them a little insight into the world of online fundraising.


One Response to “I just met you, and this is crazy, but I’m here to fundraise, so donate maybe?”


  1. Relationships give, not relationships take | Texere - Aug 13 2012

    […] I just met you, and this is crazy, but I’m here to fundraise, so donate maybe? […]

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