Friday, February 24, 2012

Face to face in the media

Face to face works - hundreds of millions of dollars raised over the last decade in Australia alone - as you can see from my most recent blog.

But journalists keep sniffing around to find a story.  Unfortunately for them, there is not much of a story; from a public point of view it is pretty boring because it is just a bunch of people getting paid to do a job.

They get paid a reasonable amount which is usually based on how well they do their job.  

They are employed by a company who arranges materials, admin, data and organises the whole thing with relevant charities.

As the chart in my previous blog shows, the system works - donors who otherwise would not have donated, donate, and charities get to do more work than they would have done if they had not used this method of fundraising.

Consequently, when there are stories in the press not a lot happens really - from a data point of view.  We don't see a spike in cancellations and it doesn't seem to make things harder for street canvassers (if you are one, please correct me if I am mistaken!)

Sunday Telegraph Journalist Jonathan Marshall decided to go undercover and go through the process of training for a canvasser.

Most of what he found is pretty boring:
- the companies exist to make profit
- canvassers are told if they do really well they can make lots of money
- mining towns are great, because people have too much money, little to do and like chatting to attractive young people

However, one thing gave him his hook - something that would actually make this story interesting enough for editors to run, and to be fair to Jonathan he had invested a lot of time in this and is a well trained journalist.

His hook was that the agency was using an acronym to describe who should not be targeted.  Whilst their targeting is actually socially responsible, it had a totally inappropriate word in it - 'Stupid'.  Canvassers in this company were told to avoid marketing to Poor, Old, Young, Stupid and Non English speaking - they say avoid the POYSN (pronounced Poison).  Of course, it is not in the interests of the charity to sell monthly giving to particularly vulnerable people so the advice is good - but the phrase is disrespectful.  Really, it was just waiting to be exposed.

What we do in fundraising is not wrong - we invest and pay trained professionals to make money for our causes.  But we need to do it in a respectful way - yes we can be cheeky, motivate people from many angles (change the world AND make money is a good incentive for many people) - but assume there is a webcam watching us when we do it.

Jonathan's story was picked up by The Project.  The Video will only work in Australia and you want the 19 Feb episode which should start playing .  Fast forward to about 1:30 after the ad.



cnukus said...

The video is not working? Only showing a picture.

'Sean is always learning' said...

Sorry - the video will only work if your IP shows you are in Australia :(

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