A day in the life of a street fundraiser

A Concern street fundraiser stands on the pavement near Baker Street. Photo: Lucy Bloxham / Concern Worldwide
A Concern street fundraiser stands on the pavement near Baker Street.

Digital Content Editor Lucy spends a day with Concern’s street fundraising team to experience a ‘day in the life of’, first hand. *Warning* contains enthusiastic images of do-gooders.

Working in a predominantly computer-based role, it’s not often that I’m able to leave my desk; never mind leave the office and spend a day outside in the open air. But this crisp Wednesday morning was different, and like any Concern street fundraiser I followed the location instructions that had been emailed to me and made my way to meet the team that I’d be shadowing.

I was warmly welcomed by team leader Enda, and four fundraisers – Joana, Aqeel, Joe and Sirine – who were suitably wrapped up and smiling, ready for the day ahead.

"The driving force is the people we represent" - Enda Muldoon

A Concern street fundraiser’s day begins with a ‘pep talk’ from the team leader.

Concern Street Fundraisers Joe, Sirine and Enda in Baker Street, London. Photo: Lucy Bloxham
Concern Street Fundraisers Joe, Sirine and Enda in Baker Street, London. Photo: Lucy Bloxham

Although I wasn’t going to be approaching people (you need thorough training for that), by the time Enda had finished, I felt motivated enough to do anything. His enthusiasm and care for the cause was contagious: “if we are looking enthusiastic, looking bubbly, looking friendly, that’s what people respond to; and vice versa. The driving force is the people that we represent” - and the team responded with determination and eagerness.

“Let’s inspire straight from the word go!” he cried, and off they went; ready to encourage people just like you to help change lives.

Concern Street Fundraiser Joanna in Baker Street, London. Photo: Lucy Bloxham
Concern Street Fundraiser Joanna in Baker Street, London. Photo: Lucy Bloxham

Fearlessness and Expectation

From the side-lines it was fascinating to witness the various approaches that each fundraiser had. What we (non-street fundraisers) might see as a rehearsed, formal, or even repetitive style of approach is in fact far more personal and unique.

Enda talks me through each fundraiser with regards to both the type of training they’ve received, and what they, as individuals, bring to the role. The level of detail that constructs a street fundraiser’s style is astounding. “There’s a fine line between determination and desperation that we try to balance”, he tells me, and I wonder the number of occasions that I’ve been passionate about a cause and managed to remain below the line of desperation when expressing myself…(as it turns out, there aren’t many).

Enda also explains that ‘distance’ and ‘volume’ are key components of a successful fundraiser: “it gives [the approached] time to think about the question” and makes sure that the fundraiser is heard. The most vital words in a street fundraiser’s vocabulary, however, are ‘fearlessness’ and ‘expectation’, and as he explained this to me, we watched Sirine gain her first donor.

It was only half past 10.

Observe, advise, improve, repeat

Enda’s intricate observations of the team weren’t given for my benefit; they’re actually a day-to-day feature of a street fundraiser’s day. Every morning the team leader watches their approaches, reports back to the office, and then gives advice and pointers to each individual member. Street fundraising is always a work in progress, and what surprised me the most was the level of attentiveness and perception this required. In order to bring out the best in an individual, you must understand how that person works.

This also applies to the fundraiser’s perception of an individual that they approach. To be successful you must be able to gauge what style of interaction a person will react to best: for example, whether they’ll engage more with a fun, energetic approach, or a calmer tone instead. And you must be able to do this within a couple of seconds.

Street fundraising is far more than simply being friendly, confident or approachable. It is about reading signs, gauging situations and reacting accordingly. It is about understanding people. It’s about passion.

Concern street fundraiser showcasing our Tfor2 campaign as part of Through to 2.
Concern street fundraiser showcasing our Tfor2 campaign as part of Through to 2.

Inform AND inspire

As the morning continued, my awe and respect for the fundraisers grew. Their energy, perseverance and enthusiasm was endless. I asked Joe how he managed to keep so motivated (I was getting tired, and had only been observing).

I went to be informed, but I left inspired.

Inspired by the dedication of these people to do good in this world, and inspired by their desire to encourage others to do so too.

Our street fundraisers are currently telling people about Through to 2. If you see them, say hello – and, of course, SIGN UP! They really are a tremendous bunch.

Fancy trying your hand at street fundraising? Take a look at the job description!

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