Dienstag, 10. Januar 2017


My fundraiser career comes (at least for now, thanks stupid Australian law which doesn't let me work for one organization for more than 6 month and oh yes, thanks for the completely underpaid and super ridiculous competitive 88 days of farm work...) to an end and that means: time for me to tell you guys something.

Fundraising in Germany

Why? Because I love to observe and it's hilarious. It really is. And it's something to think about too. I know some of you guys (close family parts for example) will critizise me for this post a lot but after all these months of daily bullshit I just want to speak up for every fundraiser out there this one time without having guidelines what I'm allowed to say and what not. 
Fundraiser food
Just for the record and because people keep asking me, what the hell I was actually doing in Australia so far: 
I have been doing fundraising for charities (actually just for one which I won't name here) for about a year now. With a little break, with actually going to the country and visiting the not-named-here charity and see what they're doing on the field, with ups and downs, success and a lot of desperate cigarette breaks. 

So this is me and I really really really want you to listen to this: 
I don't care, if you believe in charity work or if your new Philosophy professor just questioned, if we're all existing. I really don't. Because fact is: I'm talking to you. And as long as you hear me (and believe me, you would hear me) you can answer. Tell me you don't believe in charities. Tell me you don't have time, simply say no. But showing me a finger or just completely not acknowledging the fact that I just said "hello" to you is simply not an option because here's the big news: fundraisers (as annoying we can be and yes, I know we are sometimes) are human beings. This should be the new form of minimum manner. Just look at me. You don't even have to speak. Just acknowledge that I just said something. Because I have to be honest, I don't really see myself as non-existent (and if I do this is on such a transzendental level that is doesn't really matter for this particular moment when I say "hi" to you). 

waiting for people to pass
With this said, I will miss it to fundraise. As much as I hate it. I do love it as well. Because it's not all about selling. And it's not all about getting money out of people which then goes to the wrong hands. Yes, we all should be critical. I totally agree. That is exactly why I went to (I hate this word) 3rd world countries to actually see for myself what I'm telling people. But here are some facts which I really found to be true since I fundraise.  

And this is for all: future fundraisers, management and you, who probably will be stopped on the street. 

If you want to help you will find a way, if not, you'll find an excuse. 

Please. Do I really need to ask you? You will look it up? So how many times exactly have you looked something up, someone just showed you while you were rushing by? Are you sure, you will even remember the name of the charity in one hour, when you're home? And then if you're home. What if your partner waits with a candle-light-dinner or (more likely) with a pizza? And then you watch TV and oh no, you forgot to pay rent! Better fast! And what was it again, what you wanted to look up? Hm. Ever woke up in the morning and felt like today would be the day that you sponsor a child? No? Here's a secret: Me neither. People don't care if they don't see a TV ad ("but the money goes to the wrong hands!" Yes if we pay advertising it does, if we don't, you don't have any freaking clue about us, can you decide, what you want?) or have experienced poverty themselves (and those who have, never say, they'll look it up...) or if... Oh yes! A fundraiser actually tells you. This is why the majority of people in charities is signed up on the street. Not online. Because freaking no one looks it up. I personally know one single person who I met again and who actually had looked it up. And I'm still amazed by this (awesome) guy!  
So to make it easier: here are some excuses (for you) and answers (for my fellow fundraisers) which are bloody true (well, truth is objective but which I have heard a lot and which I'd like to answer once for all).

1) "I am under 18/21" 
"Well, [quick overview] check us out online!"

2) "I am so broke!" 
Ya. Me too. In minus to be honest. Get over it. The truth is: Even we broke-as-fuck-students are living in a house or apartment buy our coffee instead of making it home, drink too much beer on weekends and - oh yes that top at H&M. Goddamn 30$ but I just had to... I actually don't have any space in my wardrobe and I already have 3 purple ones but this one was just SO cute! Well. I assume if you'd really care that kids are dying you could spare these 10$ a week or month or however. I once had a homeless musician who wanted to sign up. He said he collects one bottle (in Germany worth 25 cents) per day to help. If you want, you can. You don't have to do it. No guilt tripping. But if you really think about it for a second, the reason why you don't do it isn't because these 10$ are exactly what brings you from wealthy to sleeping under the bridge. Everyone who travelled oversea knows how much a dollar is in India compared to here. We can help. Even with a little. The question is just, if we want it bad enough and again. You don't have to. Just don't lie to yourself and others. And for my fundraiser colleagues: learn the "Jar-Thing-dance", every older fundraiser knows it.

3) "I just started a job, I really wanna do it but rather later" 
one of the wonderful moments,
when a person actually cares
AMAZING! You are actually one of the very very rare black unicorns. You have a job and you stop. I totally understand that you first want to get settled but here's the thing: nothing starts today, if you want to push for another month that's fine. If you can start in the normal 2 weeks tho that would be awesome and it even gives you time to do all the research (because if you find out that we are actually selling you zebras here you might want to overthink the whole thing...). So 2 weeks would be awesome because you know, as I just said, it's a freaking beer per week and I'm sure even if you drink beer AND sponsor - you won't have to sleep under a bridge, right? But as you might know - while we're thinking and settleing here another kid is forced into slavery or dying from hunger. I'm not allowed to guilt trip you here and I would never say that on the field to make you feel bad but since this is inofficially I just say it: Goddamn should we maybe have another coffee (which was probably produced under very bad working conditions and child- or slavery labor..) while we're waiting on you? You don't wanna help? Fine but if you say you understood why it is important to help how exactly can you spend these 10 minutes talking about blabla when we just had a chat about girls who get married underaged every goddamn 2nd second. Yes. Exactly. WHILE you're talking.

4) "I just had a baby" 
Oh my goooooood how wonderful is that! Can I see it -10 minutes of serious baby fever singing and praising starts- but look. When you're a parent you understand even better, what kids need. If this would be your child and you wouldn't be in the position to help, wouldn't you want that someone else helps? And for your cutie here - don't you wanna teach her or him that every single person actually CAN make a difference (for my critical friends: we're coming to that part.)- Get your kid involved from the first moment on. Once they grow up, let them be letter friends. Exchange cultures and languages, learn from each other! Tell your baby to spend 20 Cents of their pocket money into the family jar for her/his sister from another mister or his/her brother from another mother. Let the new generation become one and not living in a bubble like ours does.

5) (my favorite part) "I'm busy working"
Well. Yes. Have a nice day. I hope you find the meaning of life back one day. I really do. Even if you don't help others. Just for your own sake. This world is so busy. Take a moment. There's a flower. It is nice to just look at it. The meeting will be so much more fun after a nice break without a smartphone. Really. I mean it. The world is beautiful and you are in a country where you have everything you need and you're safe. Start enjoying this. And please work to live, not live to work."

6) "I'm a pensioner, no one ever helped me!" 
Yes I am very sorry for you. I wish I could have fundraised people to help you than you'd for sure be willing to help now. But hey, how's this: break the circle, be the grown up one, be the better person and please do not tell me for the 50th time that I would be great in politics and that I totally should do something else. I have heard all of this before and yes, I'd love to have an academic discussion with you even though my bosses wouldn't be happy with that because that is mostly working time without sales (We're not selling anything....) but for this you would actually have to come down from your throne and listen to me equally as I listen to you. Do you think you are able to do that even though you are older and wiser than me? Because even if you have 40 years more experience than me and even though you have gone through "this phase of naive believes" yourself in my age. I have studied that shit as well, I have lived in these countries and yes, I still don't know everything. And I love to learn about your opinion and your experience. But I do have both too. And they both don't come from a sales company but from academical research and field experience. Call me arrogant I might be. But so are you by calling me naive without having heard a word I said.

7) "I am in such a rush!" / "I don't have time!"

Yeah. We all in a rush. I think it is really healthy to slow down in general. But ya, sometimes we are. Me definitely. Always late yayaya. Sometimes it's an excuse tho. For those people using the "Asian hopp" for example (mostly done by Asians without any offence, everyone does it but the name was invented in a mostly Asian area and it kind of stayed. For political correctness we should maybe call it "The Rush Hopp" tho.).
This is one of the uplifting things in fundraising, if I didn't get one of those hopps a day I was kind of sad, they always made me laugh because if you can't cry, you laugh and it was just ridicilous (similar to those people who give you the §no money" excuse while holding various shopping bags and the newest iPhone in their hands...) :)
Very easy to explain: Someone sees a fundraiser, jumps and runs a few steps saying "Oh I'm in such a rush!" and then slows down after 5 steps to walk away slowly and chilled and without any rush. Better explained in pictutes maybe so my lovely colleague Eric will show you:

8) for the critical ones: "I don't believe in charities because ... (insert any argument involving political rumor, historical evidence and/or rassism.)"
Okay there's not one answer for everyone. As a fundraiser you gotta decide here: Micha (Germany) and Irem (Australia) Style: let them go. Time is money. Or having a academical discussion just because we can (that would be me) or becoming really unsure (that is probably every new fundraiser) or ... But at the end of the day, no matter what opinion we have, one thing is just a fact: "We won't change any political system with your signature. Not today, not tomorrow. Neither will we save all the kids by then. But what we can do is helping one child. Getting a sponsored child is not only a money part. The money does go to the right hands. At least with some organisations. With some not. Do your own research on that. Actually DO look it up. Find annual reports and transparency awards. And find other sources. From outside the charity. Go to the country. Check their work out on the field if you really want to be sure. BUT let's not talk about the money. Even IF just 50% of it goes to a new school, it's still a school and (more important) there will be one child who probably has been facing more than we can imagine who will know, that someone is willing to help. One child will be very happy and will feel less alone. If we then can motivate ourselves to write a letter or to even visit this kid we actually CAN make a difference. Not by changing laws and political systems. This is something we need to work on. Yes. For sure. And big organisations, like the one I worked for, are on that (for everyone who doesn't like to support big organisations: THAT is one reason why sometimes a big organisation is needed, I'd love to do just the work I can do with my hands but to change laws and systems we sometimes have to get support from the bulk.). But until this is done, kids are dying. And as long as it doesn't hurt us, each of us can help one. So let me ask you a question here: if just one child is smiling because he or she feels that someone cares, isn't that worth a signature? And if everyone who said today: 'It doesnt make a difference so why should I?' actually would have said 'yes', wouldn't that be like 50 children smiling? This is a whole community. And now we imagine this community grows up safe and with an empowered feeling. And they all learn to develop skills. Doesn't have to be western skills, just something what they want, what they're good in. Wouldn't that mean that we got 50 strong and skilled people out there in a few years? And if we count this for a working week wouldn't that be 250 per week? 1.000 per month? 12.000 per year? and this is just from ONE fundraiser. and if we think of all the other 12.000 all the other fundraisers have brought in... Would that possibly be enough to change a system? But yes, maybe we just say 'we can't change anything anyway because everyone else doesn't'. That works the other way round too. If we do it and everyone else does it too, then we could actually do something here. And last but not least: if we can help a single person, simply through getting in touch, a small donation, trying to understand this person or child and be a big brother or sister, giving them a little bit of love and empathy. if we can do this without actually hurting ourselves (because believe me, if you're that broke that you don't buy your coffee and your H&M clothes and you're really really count every cent I won't bring you to this part anyway). So if we could do this without actually changing anything in our life. Is there ANY reason to not help someone? Why actually is the question 'Why should I?' and not 'why not?'

The last part here brings me to another thing: this is adressed to the fundraisers. To the management. To the sales companies. I said above "because believe me, if you're that broke that you don't buy your coffee and your H&M clothes and you're really really count every cent I won't bring you to this part anyway" I meant that. We should all learn to NOT trick or guilt trip people into all of this. Some people really CAN NOT help. I saw a lot of fundraisers who were so into their sales practise (and yes, I might have done that too occasionally) that they didn't see the person in front of them anymore. I heard from a lot of people, how they felt, speaking to a fundraiser. And it's not good. It gives us a very bad reputation. And I do understand why people keep walking without making eye contact. Because they don't know what happens if they stop. Because they had bad experiences. And I also understand, that a fundraiser has targets to meet. Why should a charity spend money on a fundraiser, when he doesn't bring new sponsors? However. We need to rebuild trust here and I believe this can't be done by using (only) a marketing strategy. We definitely need one. To push a little. But we do need empathy too. At one point I stopped using a pitch and found out who I talked to first. I wanted to know if the people COULD help and for what REASON they WANTED to help. So I could provide the right information for them. I don't want people to sign up and cancel after a while. It's shit for the charity. I want to inspire people to feel GOOD about helping and not feeling guilty and do it even though they are struggeling themselves. I have to say I had amazing teachers and colleagues in both Germany and Australia. But there are a lot of black sheeps out there, making people feel bad and forcing them too much. It does not help. Neither the charity, nor the fundraiser career, nor anyone. I ask people to see me as a human being. To at least look at me. I ask them to do the same with homeless people. You don't have to give. But this is a human being in front of you. Acknowledge that. For making that happen, I need to start with myself and I ask every fundraiser to do the same. These "Sign-ups" there are human beings too. Some are not ready. Some are in a bad financial situation. Some of them need a push, some of them don't. And some of them don't look at you because they don't know, how to say no if they really can't or don't want. Please look at them and speak to them as if you would speak to a friend. Give advise as to a friend. Not to a sale. Because lives are no sales. And it gives every other fundraiser, including yourself a bad reputation. There is a reason why people hate us. And I was told that a lot. Even from people, who in the end signed up with the words "you were so different, I never sign up for these things." That's because I was real to them. If I need tricks to get them to help, it's not right. Little pushes: yes. Lying and tricking: no. If you fundraise, find a charity, you truly believe in. Do and live what you preach and be an example rather than a sales person.
And dear management. Just a sidenote: you should be the first, who acknowledges fundraisers as human beings too. Fundraising still seems to be the dishwasher level in NGOs. Why? Don't we bring the sponsors in? Where would the other departments be without sponsors? Working for an inhouse team, so directly for a charity should be better than for a marketing agency. But appearently in some things it is not (I worked in both). Marketing fundraisers get to see projects, they get far better bonuses and quite nice working conditions (once read a job offer including a spa, weekly BBQ and a gym). Here it's quite fair to ask "where is the money going?!" But on the other hand: travelling time which is unpaid (2 hours per day min, up to 4 or 5), seeing every department getting rewarded at the Christmas-Party and only the fundraisers are not even mentioned, we can go home when it's over 36 degree but unpaid (so basically we can decide to get a heat stroke because we work outside without any shade or go home without money for the day..... Who exactly is paying my rent?) speaking about working conditions... I could go on but I won't. I just say: dear management. A lot of your fundraisers are actually highly qualified. There is NO REASON to look down on them, compared to office workers just because they are comfortable enough to stand on the street and get sponsors on board. Quite the contrary. You should be freaking happy to have these talented people. And connecting them more to the other departments can not only help your qualified fundraisers in their careers but also improve numbers and knowledge of your fundraisers and bring more sponsors. Just saying.

And a reminder (because really guys, just keep that in mind): We're fundraisers. A lot of us have actually studied. And lived overseas. And some of us not. Which doesn't make any difference after all. We are all people. Everyone with a different reason to do this job. And yes, it is a hard job. So you don't have to make time. You don't have to sign up. It would be nice, if you smile. But even that: you don't have to. But please don't yell at me. Don't give me a rude gesture and please.. please do not just ignore me. I'm just as you, trying to do my job. Something I believe in. You don't have to. But there's no need to hate me.

Australian crew at Christmas
And with this being said: thank all those beautiful souls, I've met through this job. Co-workers and strangers, all those unicorns who talked to me, who told me new stuff, who inspired me, who made me happy because they believed in something good, because they did sponsor a child with heart and soul as if it would be their own, even for those who never signed up but had a friendly or interesting chat with me. Thank you. There's nothing better than to go home from work, knowing you made someone smile. And all these good hugs! And especially to my two teams, my German Pina Coladas and my Australian Unicorns (time for a second tattoo...) You are the best and I say that without cheerleading. 
German crew having dinner
You are such amazing passionate, loyal and easy going people. Fundraisers always get along but I like to think that my teams are always special :D I love you from the bottom of my heart. This job brings the best and the worst of people to the surface and you managed it to stay by my side through both. -15° degrees outside as well of over 36°. A minimum of sleep or keeping a smile while you have private issues or even just a bad hangover. Rejection and hours of standing every day. There are not a lot of people I can have 24/7 around me (I just say "5 before 7 it's not allowed to close the toilet door, Germany). But you guys. I can make it 25/8 if I have to. You are family, you are tribe, you are in my heart and I have the deepest respect for each and everyone with all your abilities, your passion, your strengh and your intelligence. Thank you.

Last but not least: I'm not forcing anyone. If you still think, charities are crap, that's fine. Not all are. But some. True story. But if you find a second in your busy life please do a bit of research. Find something you believe in and support it. If you can. Don't excuse, just simply ask yourself "can I help?" and "Do I wanna help?" It's easy. I think what I want to say is: we can all help. Don't find excuses, find a way. Your way.
Personally, I love child sponsorship. Because it matters what Milli wrote in her letters years ago from now. That she is very happy to have a sponsor who likes pink as much as she does. And that she wants to be a singer so we could do something together. I would dance and she would sing. And if a kangoroo would eat this money I spend on that. I'd still know that it had an impact. Because she told me that.

Love forever

My last Sign up for now.

That was a lot of info and criticism. Share your experiences with fundraising/fundraisers in the comments. What did you ever wanted to say to people or the one who stops you on the street? Totall agree or disagree on this post? Let me know in the comments below and let's all make it better for a better world :)


  1. This was a great read! I believe working with "people" always lead to this feeling that "look at me. I exist". I wrote about it last year too, when working at Disneyland Paris... People didn't even look at me. You say "hello" and they won't look. It's even crazier because , hell, they PAID to get in the park, they have time, they are on holidays... but they still are rushing, shouting after their kids and not taking the time to create human connexions.

    Also, this obviously made me think of Amanda Palmer's Art of Asking. Have you read it? I spend my time talking about it. If you haven't, I believe you'd really like it!

    As for fundraising, I totally approve of your opinion, and yet I am one of those people who just rush saying "Sorry I don't have time but I know your job is hard so please keep strength and good luck". Most of the time it's true, I'm always late and fundraisers are in places where... well people rush. Like in front of a train station. I always feel sorry.
    Still it is also a kind of excuse because it's really hard for me to explain "Hey I have a problem with money, it's not real for me so sure I'd give hundreds to help because I don't realize and then I find myself in trouble... so now I only give material goods which allows me to have a better understanding."
    All of this is true, and it also allows me to choose how I give. This is the only way I found not to be in trouble with money and yet to "play my part".

    Anyway! Thank you for writing this article! I really like this website

  2. Beautiful and for that reason I ask every fundraiser to also let other opinions count and not force people too much ;) ya I know, I'm often in a rush too but it's the "look away because not comfortable enough mentality" I want to adress here. The same happens to homeless people, a lot of people just walk by without looking them into the eyes because "there are too many" or people simply don't want to say no because it makes them feel bad. Which is understandable but what most forget over this: the person sitting there probably feels even worse and in the end we are all human and each and everyone can make people around us feel good instead of bad by a simple smile. It is not much but I think it's a way to make the world better :)
    And I'm sure Lia, you are not one of those who completely ignore a hello or yell at a fundraiser ;)

    Btw thanks for the really thoughtful comment! I love it when people criticise and think! :) Un bisou ma belle!