I finally got round to doing my annual house to house collection for the Royal British Legion. As each doorbell, letter box and door knock wore on, I rediscovered a few old lessons and insights that are hopefully worth sharing…
The Poppy Appeal is one of those great annual galvanizing giving moments in the UK…it commands an almost universal appeal and a wave of goodwill. So, knocking on doors for cash and giving a poppy to wear, compete with collections in the street, through shops and via text, mail, TV and online. But its the transaction of cash that remains fascinating. An exchange of human nature, an almost forced moment now of human contact. It’s difficult to find cash collectors, but it teaches us a lot about ourselves and the people whose support we need. So, after 90 minutes door to door here are my 7 lessons and insights.
1. Say more than thank you….say how kind that is, how much you appreciate the gift, a heartfelt thanks whatever the sum
2. Concentrate and celebrate the kind ones, move on from the self obsessed and can’t be bothered
3. Give a bit more….I found myself giving out 2 or 3 poppies in case they lost one…people sort of liked that….
4. But make sure it’s not seen as waste. People want to make their gift have impact and not be spent on anything other than that impact
5 Leave something behind…I left a poppy at each door of those who weren’t at home, the next time they see a tin, they are more likely to give
6. Take a gift aid declaration. two people asked me for this as they wanted to maximise their giving. There must be a better way of making the most of this?
7. If they want to chat….listen, ask and understand….
As we can easily hide behind social media, direct mail and e-mail there’s sometimes no better way to reconnect now and then by stomping the streets and knocking on doors…..maybe all fundraisers should have a go at least once a year….but always, always shut the gate….