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A few years ago, with one of my temping jobs I was a charity fundraiser. It paid well, offered flexible hours, comfortable working environment and there were some fantastic people working there. However, I left after only a couple of months, as it was often very disheartening on the job. My job, more accurately, was to be a telephone charity fundraiser - that is to try to raise money through calls. Lists of numbers are provided to us and we would have to ring up these contacts to explain our cause and to try to encourage some donation of funds! The type of donation is important for the company I worked for. We are asked not to encourage one-off donations but to request donations that could be received regularly - i.e. monthly direct debits. This, of course would mean more money than the one off donation but also allowed the charities to plan more accurately for up-coming projects in the knowledge that regular revenue was coming in. The people that I was working for is actually a profit running business - therefore they earn money for providing this service to charities - the charities pay them as an agent to bring in funds. There is nearly always going to be an adverse reaction whenever you ask someone for money whether it's for charity or not. So the 'callers' undergo training on communication skills, role play on possible scenarios and also tactics to help us clinch that 'direct debit'... I will not go into the techniques here as I will probably get into trouble as this particular company does use some very unique techniques - not illegal though sometimes it can make you feel a little uncomfortable while taking to the people on the other side of the phone; After a bad day at work when you get a phone call from someone asking for you to part with some of your hard earned cash, not just a one-off but to provide them with a regular income - an unwelcoming response followed by some verbal abuse is somewhat understandable. After all, we are still being paid whilst we listen to this. If you're lucky you will get those who will politely, but firmly say 'no, thank you' Or very rarely those who will say 'yes, wow ok!' But honestly, you will probably get that on the day you win the lottery. There are the do gooder's who are already signed up, and those who like to play with you, i.e. listen to you politely for half an hour making encouraging 'mmms, yes, yes, that sounds good' , only to say 'well, I'll have a think about it, but no thanks for now...' But the real crunch comes when you are faced someone who is willing to say yes, but you're the one who wants to put the phone down: Somebody who appears vulnerable themselves, has very little to live on and yet are still very willing to give. I have yet to come across this type of contact but we were given a recording of this to listen as part of our on-going training. It was a genuine telephone conversation (all calls are recorded for monitoring and training purposes) between one of the company's best callers and an elderly man in his 70s/80s. The man was a little hard of hearing and it sounded as if he was also quite poorly. The fundraiser explained her plight and requested £20 a month donation, the elderly man explained that he could not afford it as he only relied on state benefits. We are required to use the tactics on three attempts and we are only allowed to give up and end the call if the other person rejects on the final time. The fundraiser continued to persuade him and made him an offer of a reduced monthly donation of £5 or £10 per month, the elderly gentlemen appeared swayed and sounded genuinely willing to help and would say yes, only that he regretfully admitted that he was simply struggling himself. On the final attempt, the fundraiser asked if he could make a donation of £3 per month. After more persuasive talk of how much of a difference this would make - the pensioner hesitated a reluctant 'ok'. The fundraiser then promptly followed through to the take the donation details. I am somewhat outraged that the company allowed this to pass through. There should have been some sort of policy to protect against the vulnerable; after all, the fundraisers are trying to raise money for charities that help the weak. I was very fortunate not to have come across this type of call, but there was also pressure on us to be able acquire a certain number of 'direct debits' to hit the targets or it would be a case of letting you go... It's not an easy job, the amount of constant rejection that you get but still having to keep going otherwise you would lose your job if you don't hit the targets. I was very lucky to find another job quite soon, so did not stay long enough to become proficient in the job, or rather I didn't want to be - otherwise I would have been 'let go' anyway... Nowadays, when I look in the job sections, there is always constant source of vacancies advertising for fundraisers. Although seemingly for a good cause - it's certainly not the most comfortable job to do. ©Leighsady 2008
When I was a young girl I used to watch Blue Peter and enjoyed helping with their annual appeals. One year they collected used postage stamps in order to buy inshore lifeboats for the RNLI. Each year they would do numerous reports about the charity which they were supporting and so that year I learnt a bit about the RNLI. Incidentally as a child I wondered how you could have an inshore boat - surely they all went out to sea didn't they? Now I know that the little inflatable boats are the inshore boats (ILB's) which stay close to the shore and rescue people from sandbanks or rocks etc. The bigger, more substantial boats are the all weather boats (ALB's) and actually go out to sea to help other boats in trouble. Anyway back to the appeal, the most fascinating fact that I did learn was that there is only one paid person per lifeboat station - the engineer who maintains the lifeboats - and all the rest of the people involved are volunteers. The idea that someone could be going about their day to day work and be prepared to drop everything and risk their life to save someone else was just amazing. I have been interested in the RNLI and their work ever since. Whenever we went on holiday we would always find the lifeboat station and go and take a look at the boat and read all the reports of the rescues they had made and of course place a donation in the collecting box. Whilst we lived in Walsall I joined the local guild but they weren't very active and all I got to do was pay my subscription each year. I also joined Shoreline at that time. This is the annual subscription to Head Office for people who want to support the RNLI but who don't actually go to sea. As soon as we moved to Llandudno in 2002 Dave and I joined the local lifeboat guild and this time they ARE active! Within two months of joining their then Box Secretary resigned due to old age and ill health and I was asked if I would like to take over. This was great for me as I was full time carer to dad who had Alzheimer's disease so I never knew from one day to the next what I would be able to do so I could never plan ahead. The job of Box Secretary suited me perfectly because, when dad was having a good day, I could leave him and mom at home together and pop out and empty a few collection boxes and pay the money into the bank. Yes, that's what the Box Secretary does! LOL! Here in Llandudno I collect in the region of £3k a year from our collecting boxes and each year I try to get more than the previous year. I have actually managed to increase the amount every year so far even if it has only been by a small amount! Dave (my husband, trusty helper and chauffeur!) and I see it as a challenge! Occasionally there are foreign coins in the boxes that I empty so I keep them until I have a few and put them on EBay, sell them and then donate the money to the RNLI. Someone also recently gave us a bagful of all sorts of coins to sell. Thinking about EBay, when mom was alive she used to knit squares and make patchwork blankets which I would then sell on EBay and again donate the money to the RNLI. As a guild we meet every month from February through to November and we hold coffee mornings at local churches during the year. We used to have a shop on the pier selling souvenirs but the rent got to high and we let it go. Now the souvenirs are sold from a stall on the seafront each Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from May to September. Our all weather boat the Andy Pearce is 'parked' on the seafront next to the stall. The local bye law states that we can only sell souvenirs or collect money when the boat is there. It is also a good way for people to see the boat as it usually in the boathouse which is not open to the public. There is a nucleus of three people who are there every Sunday from 8am until 6pm, which is quite a commitment, and the rest of us help out whenever we can. Some are there most weekends and some of us just do a bit here and there. Our guild makes the highest amount for the RNLI out of all the guilds who sell in the same way as we do (i.e. without a proper shop). We usually make somewhere between 35K and £40k per year and the next highest last year was £8k! We have at least one flag day each year although most of our guild members can't manage to collect all day so just do a couple of hours. This year Dave and I started at 9am and managed to stand outside with our buckets until almost 4pm! People were very generous and we got over £300 just between us two. The manager of one of the cafes where we were standing bought us cups of tea out to keep us going which was very kind! I know that other guilds do more in the way of sponsorship such as sponsored walks etc. but our guild is made up of mainly older members so we don't tend to do things like that. We do have some of our local hoteliers who hold raffles, dinner dances and coffee mornings to help raise funds for us. There are other ways to raise funds such as leaving money in your will or asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents or funeral flowers. We did this at mom's funeral recently and I have a donation of £400 to take to our next meeting. I hope that gives you an interesting insight into our fundraising and just remember whenever you see an RNLI collecting box, pop a coin in it no matter how small it all helps! You never know it might be your life that needs saving one day .........................
It was my first time away from home and I was young, naive and just started uni. I had had all the lectures about don't do drugs, drink in moderation (1 glass once a week should do it) amongst oher things but no-one warned me about the Raggies. Luckily for me the Raggies are members of Rag. It originally started as a group of students wishing to raise money on behalf of charities that they wanted to support but not being in the best financial position themselves tried to raise money through sponsorship of silly / scary stunts and donations. Hence the name of RAG origins (Raise and Give) however there are quite a few stories as to how the name came about none of which involving a time of month. So what is a Rag? A Rag is a group of students who, as stated above, wish to benefit charities through most often fun enjoyable events or yes they do stand on corners dressed up in silly costumes holding sealed buckets or collecting tins. Quite a few universities will have a rag and colleges are beginning to start them up as well. A perfect opportunity to meet new people who have a similar interest to yourself. The work done by these raggies is taken so seriously by charities that some will have rag co-ordinators just to make sure that they use them as much as possible. Believe it or not it can be quite dull standing at the side of the pavement and you don't necessarily have all the clothes or equipment you need. I know of someone who was collecting by a fountain and due to the reflection of the light ended up with the oddest suntan marks. However to lighten things up some charities now hold competitions between Rags to see which can collect the most in one day within one region. The most notable being Christie's Day which is a cancer hospital in Manchester, UK with rags coming from all over the country to compete and will collect as far afield from Manchester as Preston, Bolton and wherever else the charity may have permits for. < br>But it's not all collecting tins and shrapnel. There's the more energetic and scary methods of raising money such as parachute jumps, abseiling, firewalking etc one of which I did but my smouldering feet won't tell you which one. All these events require insurance and the proper permissions and licences to be held before such events. My personal favourite is one that I've taken part in every year since 1997 despite having graduated sometime ago and that is a sponsored walk but it's not an ordinary sponsored walk as it is in and around Manchester for 55 miles and starts overnight. Luckily for the participants there are checkpoints along the route but I've never claimed to be a participant. Not me, no I'm usually the frozen nutter who stands at a checkpoint for 5 hours keeping it open for the walkers or a driver ensuring that there are sufficient supplies at all the locations. Great fun and when you eventually get to bed after being awake for the 24hrs it either takes you to walk it or help out you will never know such a peaceful sleep ever again. I suppose that this includes the fact that there is admin work that needs doing and yes it is boring but to see the money come in makes it all worthwhile. In the end it is a win win situation. 1. You achieve your goal of raising money for charities 2. You've met new people and made new friends 3. You've worked in a team and as an individual 4. You've learnt new skills and ideas So whats so great about that list...... it all looks great on a cv. That never was my intention to have something to put on my cv but any charity work does and if you can do it with similar minded people who are sociable, friendly and supportive, all the better. The negatives As with so many good things there are people out there who are willing to exploit peoples charity so I have the following warnings. Rags are not paid to collect or run events and will hand over all donations to the charity they are collecting on behalf of and at a later date may ask for transport costs that they've had to pay out of pocket which the charity will only reimburse on the basis of suitable proof. People may claim to be selling a RagMag (joke book or sometimes known as a gag mag) but check which rag the mag is affiliated to. It has been heard of people selling fake ragmags with the vendor telling you that it's for charity but mysteriously not saying anywhere on the mag of any proceeds going to charity. I'll let you decide where the money may go. If in doubt, check that the charity has a Registered Charity Number as all authentic charities will have one and if they are collecting you can ask that they show you their permit to collect which will be issued by the local council. If they don't have one they shouldn't be collecting. Yes the negatives are hard hitting and it's a shame that people are willing to mislead the public. So how can I turn the tone around and end on a happy note. My personal experience of Rag and fundraising has been fun, a learning experience and hasn't stopped yet. I'm helping out with the Bogle Stroll yet again this year and will probably help at the Breast Cancer fun run next year as well. What with having a limited time to be able to help fundraise I choose which charities I help with but there are so many deserving ones out there that I hope I might have encouraged other people to help. Even if it's just a glance, have a look at www.manchesterrag.org and maybe you'll get some idea of the fun I had while helping others through fundraising. The end of the epic PS I will expect to get a few grumbles about the factual content, this all from memory and I'm bound to have got something wrong.
Jumble sales, raffles, sponsored walks…. fundraising. Yes, I have some memories of this. Once upon a time I was a member of the administrative committee for a local charity. Quite how I got roped into being in charge of fundraising still remains a bit of a mystery to me, but it happened, and I did the job for just over a year. How well I did it is probably open to question, but considering I didn’t have a clue when I started, I don’t think I did too badly. We raised more that year than during the two previous years together so I must’ve been doing something right. Once I’d recovered from the shock of being put in charge of something that I knew nothing about, I contacted my predecessor in the hope that she’d have some advice for me. She’d been there before, she knew what made money and what didn’t. Good move, wouldn’t you say? Well, that’s what I thought, but unfortunately the lady had fallen out with the chief administrator of the charity and wasn’t in the least bit helpful. Ah well… I tried. My next step was to have a scout around and see if she’d left any notes about the fundraising that’d been carried out while she was in charge. I looked in filing cabinets, on shelves, in drawers, behind the toilet and under the rug but nothing was to be found. Well, nothing apart from a diary of events. I now knew WHAT they’d done during the previous year, but I still knew nothing about how they’d arranged any of the events or, more importantly, how much had been raised from each of them. Ok, I thought, let’s have a look through the accounts. I felt pretty sure I’d at least get an indication of what I could expect to raise from each event by looking at what had been registered under ‘fundraising’ directly before and following each event that I’d found in the diary. Ha! Who was I kidding? There were plenty of ins and o uts under fundraising, but it was obvious that the lady who went before me hadn’t been particularly organised. Sure, the transactions were all there, but they were very haphazard and I could only guess at which ‘outs’ belonged to which ‘ins’. All in all, I had very little to go on. Some of the other committee members had a rough idea of what had been successful and what hadn’t, so I just worked on those and developed a few ideas of my own, hoping that I’d manage to organise enough successful events to keep the charity alive. It’s really quite daunting to find yourself in charge of fundraising, because almost all charities are dependent upon those funds to survive. If I did a poor job they’d hardly have enough to pay for their office space and administrative costs, let alone actually help anybody. I decided there and then that I’d do everything I could to beat the previous year's fundraising figures and threw myself into the job. First of all, let’s have a look at some of the events that were arranged. ~ Valentine’s Roses A couple of us stood outside the local railway station during the afternoon rush hour and sold bunches of roses to men on their way home. A local florist sponsored this by letting us have the roses at trade price. By selling them at an ‘affordable’ price, we ensured that as many as possible would be sold and still make a decent profit. The florist provided the paper we used to wrap them in, so the only additional purchase we needed to make was the plastic buckets we used to store the bunches of roses in. We didn’t raise huge amounts of money this way, but a tidy amount for just a few hours work. We had to apply to the local council to be able to set up a pitch outside the station, but in my experience, when it comes to fundraising, especially when local charities are involved, local authorities are usually quite amicable. ~ Jumble Sale It goes without saying that we had a jumbly. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the best ways of raising funds, but there’s quite a bit of work involved. Luckily we didn’t have to hire a hall or anything because we had space of our own. I had a look through the list of charity supporters, found a couple of blokes that I knew had vans and sorted out ‘collectors’. I did some of the collecting myself, in my old beaten up estate, and after a month of so of advertising for jumble in the local paper, we had enough to stage the event. I hadn’t dared to advertise a date before I knew we had enough, but I needn’t have worried. If you’re willing to collect, people will offer you all sorts of things that they no longer want or need. The biggest headache connected to the jumble sale was getting enough volunteers together who were willing to help out on the day. Take my advice, ask at least twice as many people as you think you’ll need, because there will always be those who don’t turn up on the day, and there are always jobs to be done that you didn’t think of beforehand. If you end up with too many volunteers, you can always thank some for coming along and send them home again, but trying to get through it with too few is a nightmare. By the end of the day we were all just about ready to drop, but spending a day ‘pulling together’ had been fun and a fair amount of money was raised. ~ Sponsored Baby Walk As I was a new mum myself at the time, a sponsored baby walk seemed like a good idea. It would give new mums an excuse to spend the day out in the fresh air with their little ones, and get to know other mothers too. We decided on a route around town that would follow bus routes closely enough to allow anybody to ‘jump off’ the walk at any point, but without touching roads with heavy traffic more th an necessary. Check-in points were set up at approximately every 2 kilometres (the walk covered 20 kilometres in all) and each walker had to have their card stamped at each point as proof of how far they’d walked when collecting their money. This one didn’t cost much to arrange. A local printing company printed up the sponsor cards for us in return for having their advertising on the bottom of each card and us adding a ‘sponsored by…’ note at the end of our own newspaper advertising announcing the event. The day turned out to be one of our most successful fundraisers. Lots of mums turned out, and a few dads too. As suggested in the event announcement, buggies and prams were decorated and a good few were ‘dressed up’ for the occasion. We had everything from clowns to chickens pushing buggies that day. New friendships were forged and the charity gained a few new active volunteers. The only drawback is that some walkers never paid in their collected money and a LOT of them didn’t pay it in until more than a month after the event. The ‘chasing up’ cost us a bit in phone calls, so if I were to arrange an event like this again, I’d probably do it differently. Maybe a sum to start would be better. There’d be less hassle for the walkers as they wouldn’t need sponsors and less chasing up for the fundraising administrator. Mind you, on the down side, it probably wouldn’t raise quite as much money either. Oh well… it was fun. ~ Sponsored Knit This one got the older members of the charity interested, and as the charity I was involved with was one that primarily helped the elderly, it seemed quite appropriate. Old ladies can usually knit, and they usually enjoy it too. What we did was ask people to knit squares of a certain dimension. These squares would then be sewn/crocheted together to make blankets that would be sent to a place that I’ve unfortunately forgotten (try as I might, I can’t for the life of me remember where we sent them). It was some cold, famine stuck place anyway, and as a local church was arranging to send a lorry load of supplies down, we asked them if they’d take our blankets, which they were more than happy to do. We announced a date when the squares would have to be delivered to the office or collected if the knitter was unable to travel into town. Each set of squares was counted and the amount noted on the knitters sponsor form. For some reason, those who knitted squares were quicker at returning their sponsor money than those who’d baby walked and we raised a decent sum for the charity as well as helping those in need in another part of the world. Again, apart from the event advertising, there was little cost involved. A few volunteers were needed to collect squares and a couple of counters were needed at the office. The biggest job was sewing them all together, but we arranged a ‘coffee morning’ type thing where members came along, had a cup of coffee and a chinwag while they did a bit of sewing. There were still a good few left to be sewn together by the end of the day but I just took them home, got a couple of friends round and together we finished the job off. As well as the above, we arranged several tombolas held outside local shopping centres and a dinner/dance evening, which, although it involved a lot of preparation, was lots of fun and very successful. Some points to bear in mind when arranging fundraising events: ~ If you’re arranging any event in a public place, do contact your local authority for advice. You may need permission and there may be rules surrounding the type of event you’re planning. Check well in advance. ~ People under the age of 16 are NOT allowed to collect money in public. ~ Don’t expect vol unteers to stand alone with a tin, waiting for passers-by to pop a few coins their way. Not only will the volunteer get terribly bored, it’s also an ineffective way of raising funds. ~ The key word to any fundraising event is FUN. If the volunteers aren’t having fun, they won’t volunteer again. It’s also important to make sure that volunteers feel that they’re doing a worthwhile job. Show gratitude for their help. Perhaps give them a bunch of flowers each, or some promotional gift that the charity sells (mug, keyring, pen etc). ~ Make sure your volunteers are fed and watered. You can’t expect anybody to enjoy helping out if they’re left to starve all day. Arrange for somebody to make sandwiches etc and borrow a few flasks for tea/coffee. ~ If you’re ever in doubt as to whether there are regulations surrounding the type of event you’re planning, contact your local authority. Never just go ahead and hope for the best. It could cost your charity a lot of money in fines for breach of laws, by-laws, rules and regulations. ++++ There are plenty of books available that will help you with ideas for events, guide you through the rules and regulations surrounding them and even offer advice on how to approach businesses for sponsorship. Just pop over to Amazon and type in “fundraising”. One piece of personal advice I would like to give is PLEASE MAKE PLENTY OF NOTES TO HELP YOUR SUCCESSOR. I can’t stress this enough. Note down where you bought supplies from, which businesses you contacted for sponsorship and their responses, which volunteers did what, the names of contact persons within the various LA offices that you needed to contact and any other information that you think is relevant. And probably most importantly, the exact net income raised through each event. How much easier my job would’ve been if I’d had that sort of information available when I started. All in all I enjoyed my time as Charity Fundraiser but a year was enough. There’s a lot of work involved and a lot of stick to take when things don’t go quite as smoothly as planned. But when things go well, it gives you a real sense of achievement and for me, being on Income Support due to caring for my handicapped son, doing any charity work gave me a sense of purpose. I wasn’t just taking money, I was using my spare time to do something worthwhile for my local community. And after all, we all like to think we’re doing something of value don’t we? ~~+~~+~~