Stop Letting Your Opinions Get in the Way of Organizational Growth

August 22, 2019

“I’m in favor of progress, it’s change I don’t like”  – Mark Twain

Yesterday I got off a phone call on sustainer growth that ended in an all too familiar way.

“The numbers look good, we like the model, but we just don’t think face-to-face or tele-fundraising are right for our brand”

Often this is followed by a slew of subjective opinions on a channel that has helped some of the largest organizations in the world grow exponentially faster than any other channel that we currently have available.

Don’t get me wrong – I understand it. In fact, I was a door-to-door canvasser for almost 5 years, trudging through -40 degree weather in the middle of February and being subjected to more expletives than I care to admit. This, however, was a very small percentage of my overall experience.

More often than not I had engaging, thoughtful, positive conversations with members of the public who were genuinely interested in better understanding who the organization was and, in turn, learning more about what it was that they did.

Unfortunately, not understanding these positive brand implications has led to a commonly held assumption that the “evil” of face-to-face far outweighs the potential benefit for mass growth in your sustainer file.

While organizations compete globally in saturated spaces such as DRTV, Direct Mail and Social Media, face-to-face allows for intimate, uninterrupted conversations with thousands of individuals each day. Trust me when I say that it’s the only channel where the numbers are a guarantee.

To help better explain this, I took a picture of something we’d sketched up for a recent leadership group to illustrate how simple the decision should be. I’ve included it below to help illustrate my point here.

Keep in mind that these numbers are conservative and don’t take into account upgrades, reactivations, or additional one-time gifts; all of which are standard pieces of any monthly giving program.

No single solicitation strategy can satisfy everyone. Digital fundraising campaigns create negative comments, DRTV is met with the guilt complex and Direct Mail inspires the “you’re spending too much money” call that every organization has encountered at one point or another.

Face-to-face inspires action, spreads awareness, and more often than not leaves individuals more knowledgeable and educated. Understanding this can go a long way in helping your organization get a pilot program off the ground.

Unfortunately, none of this seems to move the needle. For organizational leadership, the decision to hold out on face-to-face or telemarketing investment tends to be an emotional apprehension rather than a logical one. While this short blog has outlined what is often the biggest barrier in face-to-face or tele-fundraising investment, it’s by no means the only challenge.

Over the next few weeks this series is going to explore topics such as how to select vendors, create stewardship content and deployment strategies, and how to more effectively mitigate your attrition through tele-fundraising support campaigns. Keep an eye on the blog for these updates and more.

If you’re eager to get the ball rolling and want to learn more about how to effectively introduce the topic of sustainer giving to your organization, don’t hesitate to reach out. Shoot us an email at or give us a call at 416-588-7780 ext 210.

About the Author

Trevor leads the marketing and Communications team at hjc with more than ten years of experience in face to face, mid-level and annual giving
fundraising experience. Trevor is responsible for developing, leading and supporting a variety of communications and marketing strategies for various clients, such as Good Shephard Foundation, Ontario SPCA and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation (CAMH). With a focus on increasing client awareness, Trevor manages all Digital Marketing related communications efforts and assist with marketing campaigns that align with organization

A creative problem solver, Trevor practices a solutions-oriented project management style.  Whether it be implementing new and exciting fundraising practices, manipulating the functionalities in an ad platform, or testing appeals, he is always looking for new and innovative answers to your problems.