I’ve written and spoken before about how ‘chuggers’ – or street fundraisers – changed my life.
This year it’s 10 years ago that I worked as a chugger, and made the leap from sales and finance jobs in to professional fundraising. It changed my life – it indirectly helped me meet my girlfriend, it helped me sleep better at night, it started a career I love, led me to set up my own fundraising business, and prodded me to become an ‘international speaker’ (To paraphrase Bernard Ross: How do you become an international speaker? Get on a plane, fly somewhere, get off the plane.)
I was reminded of all of this again when fellow Beatles fan Sir Ian McQuillin sent me details of new research focussing on individuals who started their fundraising career as street fundraisers. The research aims to map these careers and show how some street fundraisers went on to become office-based fundraisers and fundraising managers in some of the world’s most respected charities.
I personally have worked with chuggers who have gone on to be fundraisers and managers around the world at Amnesty, UNICEF, Barnardos, Greenpeace, Habitat For Humanity, and more. I’ve worked with chuggers who set up their own charities and set up their own businesses.
I genuinely believe street fundraising is one of the best jobs in the world and gives you skills and experience that serve you for life – not just in working in the charity sector but also in your day-to-day life.
Chugging teaches you how to talk to people. It teaches you that you can talk to strangers about anything and, when you do, you can end up interacting with amazing randomers and learn bizarre things.
Chugging teaches you what works in fundraising. Looking a person in the eye, face-to-face and asking them for a donation is a very quick way to understand what works and what doesn’t. It helps you get to grips with how humans – totally irrational creatures – think.
Chugging teaches you how to listen. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I don’t know why you have eyebrows.
Chugging teaches you how to deal with rejection. And life is full of rejection. Life sucks. It’s really, really bad. But if you can get through the sucky, crappy parts of the world around you then you begin to see the amazingness. And then that’s all you see.
Chugging helps you do good interviews and get good jobs. It helps you chat up women and men. It helps you deal with everyone around you.
Even if your career takes you elsewhere outside of fundraising I believe working as a street fundraiser will help you. If you want to work in charity fundraising I know it will really help you. And even if you’re already working in fundraising, I believe a week or two on the streets would do you good.
If you want to read more about Flow Caritas’ research or you’re an ex-street fundraiser that wants to take part then read more here. I’ll be following their progress.