Public Outreach

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44 Reviews
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John Finlay
17 Ratings
  • 4 people found this helpful  

    Numbers-driven: not for everyone.

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    Former Employee - Fundraising Representative in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Fundraising Representative in New York, NY

    I worked at Public Outreach full-time (more than a year)


    *Working on behalf of companies with great causes of humanitarian benefit! :D
    *Above-average competitive pay
    *Rapid advancement and lots of opportunities to grow within the company
    *Very flexible schedule
    *Great benefits


    *All day outside - rain, sun, heavy snow, blistering cold, scorching heat - It doesn't matter what weather it is, you have to be there.

    *It feels more like sales than fundraising, despite Management assuring otherwise. The same manipulative techniques used in sales are disguised in different names and used to get people's information to get them involved in something they don't really want to be a part of.

    *Another point on the "sales" vibe - it's all about *immediate* numbers. Management talks occasionally about "quality", but they don't care about how many people you turn into long-term, "quality" donors if those people elect to become involved via phone call instead on the streets. But the truth is, nine times out of ten, the more mature, genuinely interested and financially responsible potential donors will do this, because they are willing to make a long-term investment, want to make sure that the organization whom they invest with truly guarantees what they promise, and they know better than to give out sensitive financial information on the sidewalk - regardless of how many cops are on the corner.

    *Double standard for newbies and "staff". The pressure is put on newbies to make a quota in a specific amount of time (and they'll claim it's not a quote but a "recommended amount") while (not all, but a lot of) the "staff" stands around and gossips, zones out, secures less donors and gets paid a lot more. It doesn't matter that you're punctual and diligent, worked ten times harder, spoke to more people for the day, scheduled more phone follow-ups with quality people, or actually CARE about the cause you're working for. If at the end of the stipulated time, you don't make that quota, you're out. But at the same time, you're not allowed to take specific types of donations, "because you're new and only staff can do that" - never mind the fact that you already know how to do it. Numbers, numbers, numbers...

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    *Consider the idea of a portable card reader for your street fundraisers. You may gripe about the initial cost of it, but from a business perspective I see much more benefits than demerits from investing in a card reader. Less time is spent filling out detailed personal and financial information on a paper form, the card and most of the donor information goes through immediately, there is a lower chance of wrong information due to human error, and donors themselves feel more comfortable knowing that you didn't just spend ten minutes looking at all their sensitive information, after which you will be carrying it around with you in a binder than can easily get wet, damaged, lost or stolen. Then, since a transaction will take about 1/3 the time it currently takes with paper forms, there is a lot more time for you fundraisers to talk to other people - and thereby secure even more donors than before.

    *Stop focusing solely on numbers and neglecting the entire body of potential a new hire has. I understand this is fundraising, but at the same time not EVERYTHING is about numbers - especially for newbies who have no prior experience doing this kind of thing, but have the passion and determination to become great, if given a little bit of time to break in their new position, learn the ropes and given the opportunity to put all of their talent to use.

    *Understand that people are different - impulsive people, people who aren't busy and preoccupied with their own lives and problems when you meet them, quick thinkers/decision makers, those without privacy or security concerns and audio learners are the most likely ones to give immediate information. What about the rest of people? The ones who DO care, DO want to make a difference and DO want to get involves - but are visual learners, or people who need to sit down with the information and go through everything in excruciating detail; or have had security/privacy issues with their personal and financial information so are inclined to do their research before making a bad move again; or those who need to not be in a hurry and fix their personal issues for the day before they can help others. Those are the people you neglect, or pay less attention to, because they're not of any immediate benefit to you. But those people are precisely gems that our organizations need to achieve the goals they set, and those are the people who will stay and help them for as long as they possibly can.

    *Understand this is the kind of position where those numbers you care so much about do not solely depend on how well a person works, especially when there are so many guidelines about who can be a donor and how much can be accepted from them. It also depends a LOT on weather, location, the demographics of the area and the issues affecting the population at the time - both on that specific day and in general. It's absurd and unrealistic to expect every location and every day to be as good as the last - and lay the blame on workers when a required amount is not achieved - when it's so greatly affected by (very obvious) things that are beyond our control.

    *You pride yourselves on being a meritocracy, but too often people are kept because of their "experience" or length of time with the company, despite their blatant lack of caring for the cause and failing to reach goals. Stop being hypocritical, and become the meritocracy you claim to be. Give credit where credit is due, promote where potential is blossoming, and get rid of those who are doing nothing yet making money from you, because they're your friend and you don't want to let them go.

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