Saturday, September 6, 2008

Door to Door Fundraisers... Knock Somewhere Else

This evening, while I was making dinner, the doorbell rang. I knew right away that it must be a kid trying to sell me something to raise money for some venture or another. I pondered the option of not opening the door but then thought it could be my parents who have been known to stop by on occasion.

Sure enough a teenage girl was on my stoop when I opened the door, and she was holding a binder. I immediately cringed because I really despise when people do this. I understand the need to fundraise (heck, I work for a non-profit which has to do fundraising), but I really hate to be bothered at home by a desperate person without my having previously consented to see him/her. But I listened to her pitch, not wanting to be rude.

The girl was very well prepared with her pitch as she tried to sell me a subscription to help her raise money for an organization that involved students and some sort of project that she breezed over. I said no thanks, I just ended my subscription to that particular publication and was ready to close the door. She then asked me why I had ended the subscription. I said that I just didn't read it anymore and didn't want it again. She said that I could order the subscription and then cancel it right away and still be able to help her cause. I thought this was kind of fishy. So I declined again.

She then asked if I would like to make a donation anyway. I asked her if I could get a form and fill it out and mail it in. She took out a form and said I could use this as a receipt. But she said that I could not mail it in-- even though it had an address on the form. I then saw a website address (which I unfortunately didn't think to write it down or memorize it), and asked if I could donate online. She again said no. The fishiness continued to build here.

So I basically mumbled something about not wanting to give out money in person and that she should come back later, just trying to let her down easy. She said okay and finally left. She didn't return and hopefully she doesn't again, quite frankly. Interestingly, a little later on, I went online to try to find information on this supposed organization based on the information she told me. Of course I couldn't find anything despite doing mutliple searches. Something tells me this was a scam and I'm glad I didn't give anything to her.

This brings me to my conclusion here. While I understand the need to raise money, and I understand the need to ask people to give in order to raise that money, I really think it's in poor taste to stop by unannounced to a person's house to ask for money (and not just a dollar or two, but tens of dollars, mind you), without even knowing that person. A slick sales pitch and vague answers are simply unacceptable and I refuse to throw money at someone just to make them go away. It's really the lowest of the low ways you can fundraise if you ask me.

If anything, my tip would be for the fundraiser to start the pitch by saying "I'm not asking for any money at this time, but I was hoping you would take a minute to hear about X project that I think you will find interesting..." followed by a brief synopsis of what is going on, and accompanied by a brochure with ways I can get more information and ultimately give. This is at least in the direction of trying to build a relationship with me, not trying to bilk me for a few bucks.

Unfortunately it's people and organizations like this who give fundraising a bad name. On the whole, most fundraisers do not take this strategy, but the ones that do are instant turnoffs and give a bad reputation to other organizations that do it right.

Moral: If you're going fishing for money, don't be a fishy person representing a fishy organization and simply trying to bait unassuming people into donating.

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