How to Get a Job as a Street Charity Fundraiser
CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA- Street fundraising for a charity can be a fun, easy way to make a few bucks with a relatively short-term commitment while spreading some good in this world. It’s not a job for the faint of heart—you need to be socially courageous and deal with rejection exceedingly well, but after working for a month as a street fundraiser for an Australian charity in Tropical North Queensland, I’ve picked up a few tips which I want to share that can help you get a job, and make pretty good money in the meantime.
Where Can You Apply For a Street Fundraising Job?
Everyone is familiar with the young, sociable people who stop you in shopping malls and other public places, chatting you up and eventually asking you for a donation to a charitable cause…these, my friend, are street fundraisers. If you’re interested in working as one and pass a group working on the street, just ask them. They are willing to talk, they will have a supervisor working with them, and they are almost always hiring.
Alternatively, these jobs can be found on sites such as Craigslist and Gumtree [link here to other page with description, copied below]—they’ll be the ones with the relatively obscure ad postings promising that you can make up to $$/hour with no commitment—send over a resume with a friendly greeting, and you’ll almost certainly get a reply.
Who Should Apply for a Street Fundraising Job?
You need to ask yourself, honestly, how sociable am I when I am around strangers? The number one asset to excel at a job like this is confidence, or at the very least a façade of confidence. You need to be able to strike up conversations with complete strangers, 90% of which want nothing to do with you. Is this something you will be comfortable doing, day in, day out? If not, don’t even consider working as a street fundraiser. You’ll only bum yourself out and waste time that you could have used to search for another job.
What’s the Deal with the Interview?
If called upon for an interview, they’ll likely want to see you perform the morning you’re called in. You’ll be given a short spiel to memorize, and they’ll throw you into the field and see how you do. The number one thing they are looking for is to see if you can get people to stop and talk to you. They are not concerned about your pitch at this point—if you can’t get people to stop, then you can’t sell them anything. You can hone your pitch skills with time, but you need to make yourself approachable—so smile, and maintain body posture that is open and be friendly.
One of the best ways to get people to stop is to compliment them. You want to strike a balance between being a friendly stranger and being a creepy stranger. Comments about what they are wearing (in a positive way), about something they are carrying—anything that is particular to them as opposed to any passerby have a much higher chance of getting them to stop. Once they have stopped, maintain a friendly yet commanding attitude, focusing on your body language and facial expressions. Steeple your fingers when making a point; it’s a well-known power move.
Excelling at the Job
Assuming you’re the kind of person that is comfortable enough around strangers to get them to stop and talk of you, you’ve likely been given the job as long as the company is hiring. Now it’s time to take it to the next level, and start getting people to sign up to contribute to your charity. Your company will likely give you training sessions and sales materials to review, but you’re better off focusing on a few strong points instead of the mumbo jumbo of acronyms they’ll want you to follow.
First off, you should learn everything that you can about the charity for which you are fundraising. You need to be prepared to answer anyone’s questions about the good work that you are trying to help facilitate—remember that confidence is the key to success, and if you are not confident about the work an organization is doing, then why should someone give YOU money to help them do that work? Be confident about the successes of your organization, but aware of the pitfalls. Always stress the good work that you are doing, and focus on how even just a little bit from every donor can make a huge difference. Breaking things down into weekly or daily contributions can make it more relatable—for just the price of coffee daily, you can make a difference in XX/lives.
Illustrating a direct, meaningful impact that someone is going to have by donating to your charity is incredibly helpful. A good exercise for this is to think to yourself—if I were stopped by this person on the street and asked for money to help their cause, what would I want to know about what they’re doing and how I’ll be making a difference? Popular questions generally fall under two categories: questions about the charity itself, and questions about the money.
Questions About the Charity Itself
"What is it that your charity actually does?" Don’t assume that just because you are working for, say, Amnesty International, that people will know what this entails. Remember, it’s your job to sell them on why the organization matters, the tangible differences they make, and how this one individual can help.
People will often say that they already donate to another charity. Illustrate, again, why their contribution to yours can make a direct, actionable difference and that there is no harm in helping more people. However, be careful to NEVER denigrate what other organizations are doing. Present contributing to multiple charities as a synergy of good works.
Questions About Money
“How much of my contribution will actually go to the charity?” Know administrative costs.
“How long do I need to contribute for?” Know exactly what individuals are committing to when they sign on the dotted line. Know it well.
“Is my information secure when I give you my bank account or credit card number?” You must be confident when reciting the security procedures you and your organization have in place. This is vital.
“I just can’t afford it.” Stress that you are there to help others, not to hurt others. You’re not looking to take someone’s money, especially if they’re not in a position to afford it. Be positive, positive, positive.
“How much will you receive a cut of?” Honesty is the best policy here.
One of the most combative questions you can receive is from the folks that accuse you of taking their money. Obviously, you are getting paid to raise money, and some people see you as being hawkish…only wanting to sign them up so that you can make money. This is a difficult position to be in since you are likely signing them up for contributions so that you get paid (depending on your company’s structure), but there’s more to it than that and you need to make the individual comfortable with that.
This is where another important rule comes into play: you need to be passionate about the charity you are raising funds for. You need to really believe, within yourself, that you are making even the tiniest of a difference by raising funds. If you don’t have some sort of passion for helping others, then you are going to crash and burn quickly. It’s going to be obvious to the general public that you are just looking to sell them something so you get a cut of it, and don’t care about the end goal of helping a charity operate by raising funds for it.
Obviously, this question needs to be answered in line with your company’s policy, but I found out that the best approach to dealing with it was full transparency. Tell them exactly how much of a cut you’ll make out of their donation. Some people will be unhappy, but for the most part they would have been unhappy with whatever answer you’d have given them. You need to be honest that yes, you will get some of their money, but that’s how the process works—you can’t be expected to do something like this for free, and any sustainable charity requires an operating budget to be successful. Your payment is a small contribution to the operating budget, but stress how it is a small payment, and the overall positive contribution that they are making is large. Knowing exactly how your organization spends its money is incredibly helpful here.
In sum, the key to success with a job like this is to be passionate about what you’re raising funds for. To be passionate, you need to be knowledgeable about what your charity does. If you’re passionate about helping out others, especially this charity, then your job focus is no longer stopping-people-to-get-them-to-sign-up-so-you-can-get-paid, rather it is taking the opportunity to share with others the work that your organization is doing, and giving them a chance to help you guys out. And the best part is you get paid for it! It’s all in your mind, and in the attitude you bring to the table for this job. People will see the difference between the two right away, and treating this as a money-making job right off the bat is a surefire way to get frustrated and swiftly fired. You need to keep a positive, upbeat attitude, and have that enthusiasm flow out to others. It’s the key to success.