What is canvassing?
Put simply, street canvassing is when representatives of your charity canvass a high-traffic public area (such as a busy street corner or intersection in a large city center) and begin on-the-go conversations with potential donors.
As with other forms of face-to-face fundraising, the ultimate goal of street canvassing is to enroll donors into your organization’s recurring donor program. This form of F2F fundraising is effective because it allows canvassers to potentially interact with thousands of sustainers to make the case for your cause.
Street canvassing thrives on friendly, positive conversations. When done well, it can have a major impact on your organization’s sustaining donor base.
How does nonprofit canvassing work?
Street canvassing operates on the principle that brand ambassadors can be walking, talking brochures for your organization.
Let’s check out the basic process involved in a street canvassing campaign:
- Your organization chooses to incorporate street canvassing into your strategy.
- You formulate a street canvassing strategy, either by:
- Creating your strategy independently and training staff members and/or volunteers to canvass local hotspots and connect with potential donors.
- Partnering with a face-to-face fundraising company (like Globalfaces Direct!) to formulate your strategy and train professional fundraisers to carry it out.
- These ambassadors, trained to best represent your organization and connect with supporters, take to the streets to have conversations with pedestrians.
- These conversations present your organization to a large number of demographically diverse supporters with the goal of enrolling them in your charity’s recurring giving program.
At Globalfaces Direct, we often recommend that charity partners use street canvassing as a supplementary platform on top of door-to-door fundraising, to help scale a large, year-long campaign. When you combine the efforts, you can access both high traffic city centers (with street canvassing) and high-density, residential neighborhoods (with D2D fundraising).
However, while we believe door-to-door fundraising is the best foundation for a strong F2F fundraising campaign, you can certainly launch a standalone street canvass if you choose to.
Let’s explore a few reasons why these campaigns can be so successful.
Reaching More Donors
One of the biggest benefits of a street canvassing campaign is the sheer number of potential donors your brand ambassadors are able to interact with on a given day.
Here’s what it comes down to: Street canvassing is a pull marketing tactic.
During a door-to-door fundraising campaign (a push marketing effort), ambassadors will knock on approximately 100 doors per day and make 20 potential donor presentations. While incredibly effective, steady and predictable, there are naturally occurring restrictions on the number of presentations that can occur.
On the other hand, street canvassing gives fundraisers the ability to connect with several hundred potential donors on a given day. Rather than bringing the message of your charity to potential donors’ doorsteps, savvy street canvassers are placed in the middle of bustling city centers. They’re placed in front of an unlimited number of pedestrians in these city centers, who are then drawn in by the fundraiser’s effective messaging. There’s a bit more variability at play based on factors like weather or other nearby events, but the brand exposure is undoubtedly greater.
Reaching New Markets
One major benefit of door-to-door fundraising is the ability to connect with homeowners— a market we’ve found to be particularly generous to charity organizations given factors like age and financial stability. On the other hand, street canvassing allows your organization to penetrate other demographics— such as high-rise condo owners and other city center-based residential areas— whose “doors” aren’t accessible.
Why is this so important? At one point, young professionals were moving en masse toward suburban areas. In fact, according to Deloitte, there was a declining growth rate of young professionals around city centers (-4%) in the early 2000s.
However, that trend is reversing. According to that same study, the growth rate of young consumers in and around city centers is up 18% since 2010. Even further, these young professionals are largely avoiding homeownership and purchasing later in their careers.
Street canvassing allows you to reach these demographics (Millennials, older Gen Z, etc.) that are bending the curve of suburban homeownership. This is done by meeting them where they are— bustling city centers.
Reaching Diverse Demographics
One rising trend in fundraising is the sheer diversity across donor demographic lines, with five generational cohorts involved in giving.
For example, this Blackbaud report examines giving trends across 5 generations, from Gen Z to Matures. In it, they found that of the five cohorts, four of the five preferred donating as their preferred method of making an impact.
In the report, they also note interesting findings regarding street canvassing— namely, that Generation Z, Millennials, and Gen X are those most likely to accept and respond positively to canvassing efforts.
Now, pair this knowledge with the idea that many young professionals are moving toward city centers. Street canvassing allows you to reach this variety of demographic groups, connect with their desire to give, and build your sustainer base across generations.
The Globalfaces Direct Difference
Globalfaces Direct has spent the past 10 years perfecting our face-to-face fundraising practices. With over 1,000 trained brand ambassadors, we have the capacity to connect with over 150,000+ donors per day across North America.
Here are a few reasons why our street canvassing campaigns stand out from the crowd:
- Trained, expert field agents. One of the biggest challenges for street canvassers is catching the attention of potential donors and beginning the giving conversation. We train professional fundraisers to specialize in this exact task. And, as they only work with one organization at a time, these canvassers are experts in fundraising and the charity partner’s mission.
- Methods that are pilot tested and assured. Before the full rollout of your campaign, we test our methods on a sample pilot. We develop a proof of concept and prove the success of our strategy to you before deploying the effort at full scale. This ensures that no resources are wasted on unsuccessful efforts.
- Proprietary face-to-face fundraising technology. Our proprietary Insight technology provides unparalleled access to street canvassing interactions. As we approach potential donors with fundraising asks, you can track what worked, what didn’t, and why. Further, our software integrates with dozens of payment processors and CRMs for seamless data capture.
- Turnkey onboarding process. A successful face-to-face fundraising campaign, including street canvassing, will net more recurring donors than any other effort. We’ve created a turnkey onboarding process to help your organization build lasting relationships with these supporters from the start.
With these factors in mind, we’re able to successfully build your organization’s sustaining donors base using street canvassing.
Learn More About Street Canvassing
For more information about street canvassing and other face-to-face fundraising services, check out the following additional resources:
- Non Profit Fundraising Consultants Reveal How We Approach Future Friends About the Opportunity to Give Back. Check out this blog post about starting giving conversations with strangers.
- Face-to-Face Fundraising. Explore our other face-to-face fundraising services, including door-to-door and business-to-business acquisition.
- Globalfaces Direct Blog. Explore the GFD blog for our latest insights and updates about the field of face-to-face fundraising.