Are your face to face donors in ‘the nook’?

Are your face to face donors in ‘the nook’?

Di Flatt | 22 June 2012

Street fundraising is the ultimate elevator pitch. Di Flatt explains how a great introduction to your organisation is the vital first step to engaging and enthusing your donors.


One of my sector colleagues was recently discussing face to face fundraising, and how we need to reclaim the term from its current use with regard to street fundraising.  He said we need to remember that face to face is more than street, and of course he is right.

However, street fundraising is face to face fundraising. And face to face fundraising is about building relationships, at whatever entry point and giving level.  The very thing we have all been doing since fundraising began.

Be it on the street, at the door, at a conference, at a dinner, following an introduction, or in a lift (and yes fundraisers I have indeed done my elevator pitch in an elevator – and I received a nice cheque for £100,000 in the very next morning’s post! Thank you very much Mr O’Neill.)

Street fundraising is the ultimate elevator pitch – an interested new listener signs up and so the relationship begins. A great welcome into the organisation and cause brings your new donor into ‘the nook’, and great ongoing stewardship keeps them there. Treated well and with due respect, your new street f2f donor will be loyal to you. 

Yes they behave differently – but where is the surprise in that. Eventers, major donors, and people who drop a £1 in a collection tin – all behave differently too. It’s all about the level of involvement a person wants to have with the charity or cause(s) they choose to support.

My thoughts are drawn thus: giving is not reserved for the wealthy. After all we know in percentage terms those with less are often likely to give more. So why should I the fundraiser deny anyone the chance to feel that great sense of goodwill and wellbeing one feels when one contributes to social good?

Street fundraising reaches people at all levels of wealth, and a wide age group. It gives people the opportunity to hear about a good cause, and the choice to support or not support.

Many donors who sign up to a direct debit want to support but don’t want to have to engage in much involvement or time commitment. That is great and I respect that. We ensure they are looked after appropriately by thanking them and telling them how much good is being achieved because of their generous continued commitment to giving.

But what is going to happen in the future? I for one am 'watching this space'. With tablets, iPads, and smart phones being an everyday accessory I wonder how this form of face to face will develop.  We now have apps for lots of everyday things, making our lives and choices faster, easier, and immediate - and with immediate effect.

Perhaps we should be handing over the power to act to the ‘street’ donor themselves? Give them a 'signapp4that' whereby the street fundraiser gives the potential donor the ability to sign up online there and then (or later) themselves through a free downloadable app. Putting the power in the hands of the donor. And whichever agency adopts this method first I want a nice fat donation to Epilepsy Action please!

I am sure some of you will have immediately thought ‘but surely that will reduce the number of sign ups!’ Perhaps (indeed probably) it will in the shorter term - but it will not reduce the numbers of those truly interested. And it should reduce attrition because our donors will have made a more secure personal choice to act, ensuring that we have a more stable donor base and more sustainable income stream.

We have already made some inroads into handing over the power via the new street ‘text donate’ for various causes. I recently watched with pleasure on Neal Street, Covent Garden as lots of young people were keen to sign up to a WWF text donate £5 for tigers!

Engage, enthuse, and respect then keep your face to face donors of any kind or level in ‘the nook’ – it really is all in our own hands!

Di FlattAbout Di Flatt

Di Flatt has 15 years experience as a director of fundraising: 11 years in London, and now four years leading the fast growing fundraising department at Epilepsy Action. Di is Chair of IoF Yorkshire, and a member of the FRSB’s Advisory Group.

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