Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Monday, April 10, 2006

Raising Money the Old Fashioned Way

An article in the New York times the other day looked at "something called 'face-to-face' or 'street fundraising,' trolling city streets and taking credit card information from donors on the spot." This, the Times says, is in response to donors no longer responding to phone calls (thanks to caller ID) and being burnt out on TV telethons, etc. They call this one-on-one, in-person fundraising a return to raising money "the old-fashioned way."

My first fundraising job was door-to-door canvassing for Campaign California, a now-defunct organization in Santa Monica, in the early 1980s. Of course, I didn't realize it was a fundraising job at the time. We were all recruited to be "activists" to gather signatures on petitions and get folks to join the organization. We considered ourselves to be door-to-door salesmen for a better world. But the bottom line was coming in from the field at the end of the evening with a pocket full of checks.

It was a great learning experience in so many ways. The good experiences (meeting some wonderful people) and the bad experiences (being threatened with assorted weapons people keep by their doors) all taught me much about different people, and how to talk to them all without getting myself in too much trouble. I also, without knowing it would someday become a major part of my career, learned about how to ask people for charitable donations.

What I learned then, and still practice now, is that it is your passion that is your greatest fundraising tool. Saying "I want your money" first, and explaining why later is never as effective and sharing your passion for your mission first and letting the money follow as a natural way for the listener to get involved. "Old-fashioned" maybe, but you stick with what works.

No comments:

Post a Comment