I LOVE face to face fundraising (F2F). I don’t miss hitting the streets at 4pm when the rain is coming down sideways, but I do have a fondness for the fundraising that helped me get to where I am today.
I began my fundraising career as a ‘face to facer’; telephone, door, private sites and then eventually managing an in-house team for a local hospice. I attribute a lot of my current success to my early days in F2F and I want to share five ways it’s helped me become a better fundraiser:
1.It builds your confidence to forge long-lasting relationships
You’re a fundraiser so you’re used to asking for donations. But imagine knocking on a complete stranger’s door, no relationship building to warm them up to a ‘yes’ – you don’t even know their name! In an average four hour shift, a door to door fundraiser may try to engage 43 strangers in conversation with their wit, observance and warmth*. Transfer this to community fundraising and you have a fundraiser who is skilled and unafraid to arrange face to face meetings that spark long-lasting relationships.
2. You avoid ‘fundraiser frenzy’
Building relationships takes a while, right? That corporate you met last week may not result in any income for two years but you have targets to meet NOW. Chill. A face to face fundraiser has weekly, even daily, targets. They know at the end of each shift what money they’re going to bring in, and it can be brutal. When they become corporate fundraisers they are liberated by the freedom of relationship building and relish the opportunity to get to know their contacts properly. This means successful, meaningful partnerships that have a bigger impact on both sides.
3. Your resilience and determination knows no limits
On average, a telephone fundraiser may attempt around 200 telephone calls during a four hour shift and have forty actual conversations*. Three of these people may say ‘yes’. Some evenings, you go home with nothing – but you keep going. You know that you’re the connection between community and cause, and by heck are you going to come back tomorrow and try again. Put a fundraiser like this in any other role and you will see them nail it, time and time again.
4. Your ‘elevator pitch’ needs no perfecting
After ninety minutes someone finally stops to talk to you! This is your moment, you have to make it count, you need to help them see why they can make a difference. Face to face fundraisers have around two minutes to make a connection, get across why their charity exists and make the ask. Otherwise, they get a ‘no, thank you’ or worse, they say ‘yes’ and cancel their direct debit a week later. Face to face fundraisers are the masters of cutting out the fluff and really getting down to why their charity needs your support. Perfect for networking, pitching and those chance conversations on the train with a CEO.
5. You get to wear fancy dress
Alright, not technically a fundraising lesson but where else can you recruit supporters whilst making sure you’re firmly on Santa’s ‘Nice List’? Face to face fundraisers are used to random, fast-changing situations and can quickly adapt to any fundraising role.
And they’re certainly not shy.
Face to face fundraising has its enemies and its doubters but when it’s done well, it works. As a constant recruitment source for a regular income, a huge amount of charities across the UK rely on face to face fundraisers every day to bring in millions (more on this in another blog…).
And it attracts some of the brightest, most creative, vivacious and passionate people I have ever met. Some of the best fundraising leaders today cut their teeth as face to face fundraisers, and I’m very proud to be one of them.
Didn’t start out as a face to face fundraiser? Why not push your boundaries and expand your fundraising experience by volunteering on the streets or telephone with your charity? You’ll experience all of the benefits above without the commitment. I 100% guarantee you will love every minute and when you do, be sure to tell me how it goes.
The IoF are hosting their annual Face to Face Fundraising Conference February, 2018. Get yourself along to find out more and meet some of those brilliant face to face fundraisers yourself.
*statistics based on 2016 data from St Oswald’s Hospice’s F2F team