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face-to-face fundraising hits the streets

face-to-face fundraising hits the streets

Face-to-Face Fundraising

If you have interest in seeing the breadth of the nonprofit sector globally, then take a trip to Amsterdam this fall for the International Fundraising Conference in October.  When I first attended the conference, I met fundraisers from around the world.  It was also the first time that I learned about “face-to-face fundraising”.  For me, that expression meant going out and meeting a donor or prospect in person. It is actually standing on the street (in any city) with a clipboard approaching people and asking them to support your organization. Would you be comfortable doing that?  I think about how hard it is for some fundraisers to pick up the phone to set up a meeting with an existing donor, and yet there are people who are comfortable approaching total strangers.

Perhaps you have seen some of these fundraisers.  During my last two trips to DC,  I encountered “face-to-face fundraising” when walking to the Metro station.  A few weeks ago, I was stopped by a man, who was working for a wildlife organization, and he gave a great “pitch” to have me sign up with my credit card information (monthly donation).  I told him that he probably would do a great job working with donors on a different basis.  He thanked me but told me that he makes too much money out on the street every day (is this percentage-based comp?).  Perhaps this approach works better in cities like DC, but I left thinking about how we do our work and how we incentivize people to raise money who work for us.  More and more I am being asked by boards if they can provide bonuses and incentive compensation to fundraisers, and the answer is yes!

This encounter also reminded me about the importance of having a diversified revenue stream and this is one more method of obtaining new donors into your system, but you need a good story to tell that can be told quickly.  The man I met spent about a minute telling me what he was doing and showing me pictures of the need.  For some people who work in that part of DC (K Street, NW) becoming a monthly donor for $10 or $25 on their credit card would not stretch them.

Think about the practical applications of this form of fundraising and how it can benefit your organization presentation.  I did a quick search on the internet for “face-to-face fundraising jobs” and was surprised at the number of charities looking for these types of fundraisers.  It is not uncommon in Europe to see these fundraisers and for some charities it is a large part of their revenue.

How are you adding new donors to your organization?  Would adding a team for “face-to-face fundraising” work for you?


“Do not be one of those who, rather than
risk failure, never attempts anything.”

– Thomas Merton


Written by:  Paul D’Alessandro

Founder and Chairman


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