Fundraiser 0: Rejections 6: That was it! One more refusal and I might find myself arrested for physical assault! I didn’t think that would help the charity’s cause much.
More of that later.
These blogs cover the fundraising journey from campaign development to when the money flows in. It’s a collection of experiences highlighting what I found works and doesn’t. My book Fundraising: the Essentials for Success, available from the Amazon bookstore, covers that journey in a structured and logical format. It’s designed for people who need a quick overview of the key elements that deliver fundraising success. These blogs are an accompaniment to the guidance laid out in the book.
This blog continues the theme of my fundraising experiences before I actually took it up full-time.
After some years of giving to a particular charity I received a package. It contained a fundraising kit: collection box, leaflets, a badge identifying the charity and a suggestion I could help them raise even more money as a volunteer fundraiser. For some reason I felt obliged to do it. So, box in hand, I set off up the street.
At the first door I knocked on, the person somewhat abruptly told me they didn’t give to door-step demands. The door closed before I could continue the conversation.
At the next door I saw a curtain twitch and despite my repeated rings no one answered.
At the next house I was told that charity begins at home and not in “some far distant place.”
Two more calls resulted in somewhat abrupt refusals, and I was getting angry at the lack of courtesy.
Next was a detached house. Surely this would work. As I approached a lady peered out of the window. She began frantically signalling that I should bypass the front door and go round to the side of the house. Here I discovered a sign that said Tradesmen’s Entrance!
That was it! Fundraiser 0: Rejections 6. The next refusal and I might find myself arrested for physical assault. I didn’t think that would have advanced the charity’s cause much. So I packed it in, went home and threw the collecting can in the bin. I was angry with the people who had refused. Then I became angry with the charity for putting me in that situation. Lastly I got angry at my own failure. No winners in that experiment. As I said in the previous blog Rowing the Atlantic is a metaphor for the journey for which I was not well prepared.
I learned two lessons:
Not everyone is good at the same things. It was abundantly clear that I did not possess the necessary mindset to handle the negative treatment that many people meet on the doorstep. It was years later that a double- glazing salesman gave me the key to working in environments where NO is a more frequent response than YES.
He said: “I love it when someone says NO. It means I am one step closer to my next YES!” And that is a mantra not just for doorsteps but all fundraising.
Fundraising is a game of numbers. With experience you will improve the odds. But you have just got to keep knocking on the doors where you believe you might get a positive answer. For me the key word is believe. I‘m eager to make contact where I believe there is a possible opportunity to persuade. When the approach is purely random a sense of futility and frustration quickly emerge.
The second lesson? Know your donor. The Charity nearly lost me by assuming I would fundraise for them because I was a donor. Just because someone supports you is no reason to believe they will support all your activities. Some people give money, some people rattle cans, others raise money through sponsorship. One size does NOT fit all. Donors are individuals. To get the most from them you need to understand what makes them tick. You need to involve them and demonstrate your interest in them. It’s a two-way conversation not a one-way Demand System, where you push buttons and money comes out.
In Fundraising: the Essentials for Success you will find more about the process of donor development in the sections on “The Art of Asking” and “Love your donors”.