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Your Easy Guide To Street Fundraising (With Best Practices)

Published: Mar 18, 2022

Every year, half a million people pledge their support to charities through street fundraising. Face-to-face fundraising is so successful that reports suggest donors acquired through this method tend to give 10x more than those obtained through any other fundraising channel. 

With increasing competition in the nonprofit sector and the struggle to raise funds to keep an organization afloat, street fundraising is a lucrative option to explore. Every $1 that charities spend on it, they receive $3 or more through face-to-face fundraising. 

This article explores street fundraising and how you can leverage it to benefit your nonprofit organization.

What is a face-to-face fundraiser?

Face-to-face fundraising is a personal one-to-one interaction with potential donors in the pursuit of donations. It allows you to connect with your donors and build lasting personal connections. 

One can conduct face-to-face fundraising in public spaces (such as high-traffic commercial areas and streets) or private spaces (supermarkets or malls). Volunteers or staff hired through agencies will stand in these areas to solicit donations from passers-by and educate them about your organization.

This type of fundraising helps organizations collect funds immediately and facilitates long-term commitment from donors in the form of monthly giving, etc. 

However, street fundraising is filled with challenges of its own. For one, many people report that they do not like being stopped by fundraisers and talking about donations or pledging money. Still, the results from adopting this method are phenomenal. This is why we list down some best practices for you to implement in the next section to overcome any roadblocks to your campaign.

Read Also: Best Practices to Engage Millennial Donors With Your Nonprofit 

Street fundraising best practices

Street fundraising is similar to a cold call. How? You are approaching people who 

  1. Know nothing about your organization. 
  2. Did not step out of their homes today prepared for this encounter.
  3. Were not about to donate to a cause. 

Yet, here they are, having this conversation with a stranger who wants them to part with their money. 

It is no wonder then that people have a hard time trusting a street fundraiser. Some common concerns that people have during this encounter are:

  1. How do I get an ‘out’ from this conversation? 
  2. Where will my money go?
  3. Is this person related to an organization, or are they scamming people?
  4. Can I afford to pay this amount of money?
  5. Is this even legal?

Keeping these concerns in mind, here are a few best practices you can implement when approaching people:

Start with an excellent introduction 

While street fundraising, people need to know who they are speaking with and if they can trust them. Your introduction should immediately establish trust and open up the possibility of an extended conversation. 

Begin your fundraising pitch with your name, the nonprofit organization you represent, and why you collect money. For example: “Hey, I’m Sarah from Charlie’s Animal Shelter, and I’m collecting funds to help medical efforts for rescue animals. Can we speak?”

A brief, to-the-point but relevant introduction can go a long way in helping your street fundraiser.

Provide clarity 

A good strategy to increase fund collection is to preempt questions that people may have and answer them before they bring them up. Once you regularly have conversations with people on the street, you will realize that there are specific common questions that many people ask. 

Keep those questions in mind and implement their answers in your donation pitch. Continuing with our example from the previous point, you can say: “We collect money to treat animals and give them a second chance at life. Any dollar you donate will go towards paying doctors and buying medicines for animals”. 

Let people know where the money is going and how it is distributed. Of course, you only have a small amount of time to persuade them to donate but say something which makes people believe their money is going in good hands. You can also show your ID card to give them more clarity about the organization you represent. 

Common questions to answer in your fundraising pitch

How much time do I need to spend?Hey, can we have a short, 2-minute conversation?
How much money do I need to commit?You can start with a minimum donation amount of $5 (change it with the minimum amount you need to collect)
Do I need to share my bank details?You can make a one-time cash payment now, or you could share your bank details if you want to sign up for a monthly giving program.
Is this person genuine?You can see my ID card, and I work for <insert organization name>
How will my funds be utilized?We use your funds to <insert ways in which funds are being used at your nonprofit>
How do I know this is legitimate?You can follow us on social media, or here’s a link to our website.

As you continue your conversations with people, you will know which of these questions or any other you get asked, and you can easily add them to your pitch.

Quote statistics and numbers

Saying your nonprofit helped 250 children get lunch every day in school is better than saying your nonprofit works towards student welfare. A concrete number and social proof are essential when speaking with people.

Make your conversations as factual and statistics and number-driven as possible. It makes your pitch sound more believable and less ambiguous. 

Share authentic stories

People can often distinguish between a genuine, heartfelt appeal and one which “just doesn’t feel right.” To truly inspire people to donate to your campaign, you need to share authentic stories. You could speak about your experiences as a street fundraiser or the success stories from your nonprofit. Sharing stories is a quick way to engage with people and move them to action. Here’s an example:

“Just yesterday, our animal shelter rescued an abandoned cat off the highway, and he’s the sweetest, most trusting cat ever. Thankfully, donations from supporters like you will help him get on the road to recovery in no time.”

Stories make your facts, percentages, and graphs make sense. Factual data does not mean anything unless one can see it through the eyes of a helpless animal getting treated or a child receiving a full meal and beating hunger.

Read Also: The perfect nonprofit storytelling approach to drive action 

Combine street fundraising with social media 

street fundraising benefits of using social media

At the organization level, fundraising managers can combine their street fundraising and social media strategies. Let your followers know about your ongoing donations campaign. Here are a few things you can do through your social media to aid your efforts:

  1. Share pictures of your volunteers on the streets collecting donations. It will lend legitimacy to your campaign. You can take it a step further by sharing a bit of your volunteers’ backgrounds and their names.
  2. Let your followers know which areas to locate your street fundraisers in and ask them to donate if they are in the vicinity. 
  3. Educate people about why you are collecting funds and what causes it will support. 

Read Also: Social Media Fundraising: The All-in-one Guide .

Be friendly

One of the most common experiences that people report with street fundraisers is being spoken to rudely because they refused to donate. Many even report being harassed. Street fundraisers resort to this behavior because their wages and perks are tied to the number of donations they can acquire – making them desperate and frustrated to get people to donate.

However, being friendly and building relationships with passers-by is extremely important to collect funds. Creating negative experiences for potential donors will only further create difficulties in gaining donations. 

If you want to be strategic, you would realize that people in high-traffic areas probably pass by the area every day. Some may even start recognizing you and your cause over time. When you nurture relationships with people on the streets, they might just donate – if not today, then tomorrow. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Always appear friendly and approachable. Greet people with a smile.
  2. Identify people who regularly pass by surrounding areas. They could be office goers or shop owners.
  3. Make sure you say ‘hi!’ or have regular conversations with such people.
  4. Find ways to include your fundraiser in your conversations with people. Share exciting stories from your everyday experiences as a street fundraiser, or speak about how your fundraiser recently helped someone.

Know the laws

Knowing street fundraising laws is essential for two reasons:

  1. Knowing laws helps you stay compliant.
  2. If people question you, you know when you are well within your rights to solicit donations and can defend yourself.

We discuss street fundraising laws in detail in the next section. 

Related reading: Use These 52 Proven Fundraising Ideas to Raise More Funds This Year

Face-to-face fundraising is legal, although the rules keep getting stricter with time. We read through street fundraising rules to list down some important ones you should familiarize yourself with before beginning:

  1. In the U.S, the Professional Face-to-Face Fundraising Association (PFFA) is the only regulatory body setting rules for face-to-face fundraising. Of course, they are also governed by state and federal laws. Here are a few of PFFA’s compliance rules:
  • All PFFA members and professional fundraisers registered with them need to be respectful of public spaces. They need to make efforts to comply with state and local laws and acquire licenses and permits as required.
  • All members and employees of the PFFA need to use the Automated Territory Management System (ATMS) to coordinate their location with other members to avoid clashes. 
  • You cannot accept any gift, money, or favor in the place of a donation to the nonprofit organization you work for.
  • You cannot misuse the personal banking details, contact information, or any other sensitive information you acquire while fundraising. You can only use it for its intended purpose.
  • You cannot harass, abuse, use force, violence, or inappropriate behavior to solicit funds. You cannot use unprofessional behavior while wearing the nonprofit organization’s brand or attending a work event.
  • You cannot use aggressive or intimidating methods to solicit funds from the public.
  • You cannot ask minors or vulnerable populations (those who cannot make an informed financial decision) for funds.
  • As professional street fundraisers, you need to inform donors what they are signing up for, without omitting any detail and with complete transparency. Let them know what they are committing to and their donation schedule. 

You can explore more of their compliance regulations here.

  1. In the U.K, the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) regulates street fundraising. Here are some laws to keep in mind when you are street fundraising in the U.K:
  • Nonprofits need to apply for a street fundraising license with the metropolitan police.
  • Street fundraising falls under the Environmental Protection Act; therefore, if a fundraiser is creating noise pollution or disrupting busy junctions, the police will remove them from the premises.
  • Charities must comply with the Institute of Fundraising Code of Practice while fundraising.
  • ‘Chuggers’ or street fundraisers must ensure that any personal details provided to them must be handled securely. They must also always carry and display their ID, which mentions who they are and on whose behalf they are fundraising.
  • Chuggers cannot say or do anything that harasses or pressurizes people or use manipulative techniques to seek donations.
  • The PFRA conducts regular checks on street fundraisers. This ensures excellent control, with fundraisers scoring a mean average score of 92 on several compliance indicators.
  • Under the Charities Act 2006, chuggers must disclose whether they are being paid for their efforts.

Staying updated on laws and regulations is crucial to your fundraising success. 

What Next?

Street fundraising and street fundraisers are essential in raising money and increasing awareness about social causes and charities. They aid a lot of good in the world. If you are raising funds on the street and trying to work towards a great cause, then kudos to you!

Fundraising is an activity that can be continuously improved as you strategize and execute new campaigns. CallHub has several resources that can guide you to enhance your fundraising efforts. Read our article Nonprofit Fundraising: Strategies & Ideas for Success to learn more.

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