Project Wonderful

Friday, December 3, 2010

'Tis the season for street canvassers

How do you deal with street canvassers?

You know, the people who stand on the sidewalk and ask you for money for Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood and the like.

Whenever I am walking with a friend and we're approached by a person holding a clipboard, I can almost hear my companion's inner monologue, "Please don't stop Nancy, don't do this...ugh here she goes."

As someone who has had to approach people on the street on a professional basis, I can't bring myself to bristle by. Comedy promoters maybe, but political fundraisers never. At the same time I am not willing to give them money. For one, if I have time to be walking leisurely down the street, I am likely unemployed at the moment. Second, call me paranoid, but I am not giving my credit card number to a stranger in a red vest. And, third, on advice of my favorite financial expert, Suze Orman (a big contributor to progressive candidates) , I plan my giving carefully, and according to this article, only 8% of money raised through Grassroots Campaigns goes back to the client organizations.

So, what to do? I stop and smile and firmly state that I will not give them money. Usually it sounds something like this "Hi, Cameron, nice to meet you. I am happy to sign a petition if you have one, but I am unemployed and I won't be able to give you money." If they push, I state again "I hear you, but there is no way I am able to give you money today."

It may sound harsh, but my rationale is that by being firm, yet polite, I am acknowledging that they are a person with a legitimate request and am not wasting their time. It's the most I could hope for in a similar position.

Do you guys feel guilt and camaraderie in this situation? I would love to get feedback from someone who has actually done this job. Am I right, or am I being the worst cross between a field organizer and a New Yorker?

What do you think?


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