Trends: In Your FACE!
Outsourcing or in-house?
Both work. Any organization that ultimately seeks to recruit a high volume of donors (1,000+ in a year) should consider using a specialist agency to minimize its risk. Agencies will work on some sort of guaranteed-return basis, and you should break even on a project between 14 and 18 months out.
The role of the nonprofit becomes that of managing the agency, rather than managing the canvassing staff. A face-to-face fundraising operation on any scale is a highly people-focused enterprise.
If your expectations of your program are more limited, then you could consider running an in-house operation. This approach has had a certain amount of success in the United Kingdom, but the cautionary word is to ensure you do not over-extend your operation. If you do, you’ll lose much of the benefit of doing it in this way and take on all the risk.
The in-house approach especially suits organizations that have a physical location with foot traffic, such as museums or visitor centers, where the fundraising staff has access to almost exclusively warm leads.
Whichever route you choose, training is one of the pillars of success. If you retain an agency, then you should rely on it to carry out the professional training as well. If your messaging is not at the point where it is street-ready, the agency folks will help you.
Successful fundraising is built on delivering effective and timely training to fundraising staff. Even the friendliest of streets can be intimidating places, and having the support of knowledgeable training staff brings success more easily to fundraisers — even those who are experienced.
‘Onboarding’ the donors
This is the single most important part of face-to-face fundraising. You have made a personal plea to your new donors; you have explained why their support is essential; you even bothered to put someone on the street to talk to them. This should inform how you subsequently deal with your new donors, many of whom will have agreed to a one-time or recurring electronic funds transfer from their bank accounts.