- Wed, March 04 2009
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
I really did.
It was this guy, a canvasser for Save the Children:
I answered the door because it was 15 degrees outside, and I figured a canvasser holding a clipboard must be awfully dedicated to something interesting to be out on a night like this.
He was raising money for Save the Children. Little did he know who he was getting behind my door—a professional fundraiser who might actually end up blogging his visit. But he was friendly and open and not too freaked out when I told him I knew all about Save already, but what I really wanted to know was why they were doing fundraising via canvassing. He said because it worked wonderfully. Most of Save’s child sponsors sign up via canvassers, apparently. Save is focused on this approach, scaling back TV ads and other broad-brush, less effective means of getting recurring, monthly gifts—a great gift that pays off for their programs many times, over time. It didn’t hurt that he added my neighbors had donated, too.
Made sense to me. I just gave him my credit card number and a year’s commitment of $28 monthly gifts to sponsor a child in Africa. Oh, and a copy of my book and a pitch about Network for Good too, of course. And I made him pose for a picture.
The lesson? Nothing beats the personal touch. I say this all the time, and I’m a skeptical marketer, but even I can’t resist it. A nice guy going door to door to personally and earnestly ask me to help a girl in Africa on a very cold night was just too personally compelling to refuse. Really. I’ve politely hung up on half a dozen fundraising telemarketers in the past week and thrown away ten pieces of direct mail, but this was too hard to turn down. And more rewarding as a yes. Well done, Save the Children.
I’m not saying you need to hire a group of canvassers like Save to do face-to-face appeals, but do try to make your asks more personal. Get your volunteers to spread the word to their neighborhood. Or to hand-write your donor thank-yous. Helping children? Include their drawings in your communications. Encourage your supporters to tell their friends and family members why they love you. Or at the very least, segment that mass email campaign according to some audience groups smaller than “everyone on my mailing list.”