Friday, August 31, 2012

The Art of Getting the Give

Front Door open
Front Door open (Photo credit: cottonM)
Ding-dong (the doorbell rings).

“Hi, I’m Sarah from NY PIRG, and I’d like to thank for your support.” (NY PIRG is New York Public Research Interest Group, a non-profit education and advocacy organization for environmental and health issues affecting NY state residents.)

“Now is not a good time, I’m in the middle of a big project.”

“Well this won’t take long, since you’re already familiar with us…” and the bubbly young college student at my front door continues without missing a beat.

Smart. She knows that if I close the door she won’t be able to come back. She also knows that if she keeps talking, she won’t leave without a check.

I don’t need to hear her pitch – in fact, I’m barely listening. Instead, I am focused on the fact that this articulate, bright, young adult has chosen to spend her summer as an intern, ringing doorbells, giving the same speech over and over again, sounding as excited as she can (and she is practically bouncing on my front porch), just to raise money for a cause she clearly believes in.

Having recently joined the board of directors for The Kids with Food Allergies Foundation, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what causes people to open up their checkbooks, and how they choose one cause over another.

And as I listen to the intern, it occurs to me – if you want a donation, send a student.

I can’t say no to the college student at my door any more than I can say no to the Girl Scout selling cookies (even though none of her cookies are gluten-free and I won’t be able to eat them). Enthusiasm and passion are part of the equation, but it’s also the innate desire that many of use have to help our children be successful. I can ignore the fund-raising letter that comes from a college President, but when a student from my alma mater calls and tells me how much my gift means to them, they’ll get my commitment for a donation.

At this point, it doesn’t matter whether I support the cause that Sarah is at my door to tell me about (and she’s know her stuff inside and out), she will leave with a check.

When being asked for a donation, what triggers you to say yes?


Dave E said...

So far nothing. I have no no more problem saying NO to people that knock at my door than I do people that call on the phone for similar reasons.

Anon_e_mouse said...

I agree with Dave... I have no problem saying no and, as I tell the telephone solicitors (my college alumni association excepted), interrupting my day by calling guarantees that I say no, even if I might have considered a contribution otherwise. Ditto for those who knock at my door. (Here in New Jersey the Scouts are prohibited from going door-to-door, but they would be the exception to my general rule if they did.)

Kenneth H. Lee said...

I have no issues saying no, especially to volunteers from NYPIRG. After having a most unpleasant volunteer experience many years back at an Earth Day event in Central Park and getting no support with an abusive attendee, I will not give anything to their cause.

Door to door solicitors are no different from phone solicitors. The more they push, the sterner I get. Especially if they continue speaking after I've told them no multiple times. I don't think I've ever closed the door on someone, but I have come close.

I will not give to my college alumni association but will give to my high school alumni association.

Carol Kilgore said...

Not much. I've never donated to anyone who came to my door. I need to be very committed to a cause and/or know something about how my donation will be used. If Sarah had come here, I would have said either "I've already donated" or "I donate directly" or something along those lines. Or had it been for The Widget Org, "No thanks."