Earlier this year Vera Peerdeman, writing for 101 fundraising, talked of a Dutch magazine article which highlighted fundraising as a desirable profession sitting alongside other inspirational roles like ‘fertility doctor’ and ‘geriatric medicine specialist’.
And why shouldn’t it be – what’s more important than saving the world, stopping children from dying, beating cancer – none of which is possible without the humble fundraiser.
But I wonder – would a glossy magazine ever hold a frontline fundraiser in such esteem, (you know – those great guys and girls who speak to real people in the street and on the phone and do the asking)? Would they have put that fundraiser on a pedestal and celebrate the difference they make to the world?
I fear not. And why would they? We hardly set a good example – don’t we struggle ourselves to champion our frontline fundraisers, to speak up for and defend our fundraising practices?
At Pell & Bales, we speak to 1000’s of wonderful supporters every day, supporters who laugh with us, cry with us, and thank us for updating and sharing with them – yet I have to say it can sometimes seem that our calls are perceived by some at the charities as a ‘dirty little secret’. But that’s nothing compared to the rough deal street fundraisers get – we let them stand in the cold day after day doing our fundraising for us and then insult them by calling them a “chugger” (aka charity mugger) as if it were a term of endearment?
I know some of you are with me on this – Debra Allcock Tyler writing for Third Sector Magazine recently highlighted the vital work street fundraisers do in tough conditions, and Lisa Clavering, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer has been outspoken about her disgust in the use of the word chugger”
But with an estimated 900,000 donors recruited through direct dialogue each year this doesn’t seem enough. If we don’t champion and embrace our fundraising, if the only people speaking out are those that find “chugging annoying and appalling”, or under-cover journalists looking for scandal, then we are leaving our fundraising open to huge risk of public backlash, threatening the longevity of our fundraising programs.
Please take a minute to respond below, and share your thoughts on why we as a sector don’t champion front line fundraisers as much as we could;