Have you ever walked down the street and looked up to see young 20-somethings wearing the same blue or green or logo-ed t-shirt on each of the four street corners, holding clip boards and asking you to donate money to save the underprivileged peoples/animals of somewhere?  Yeah, they smile and time their sidewalk elevator pitch just right so they can finish the last word as you maneuver around them.

I really hate the idea that just because someone it trying to save the pandas or the water supply that I should give my credit card number, expiration date, name, and zip code to a complete stranger.  If the people are legitimate members of the organization they claim to be, then the transaction is relatively safe.  But if some teenager looking to swipe a few credit card numbers decides to sport a wilderness t-shirt and a clip board — well, it turns into a 419-scammers wet dream.

I sometimes want to tell these people to go get a job and donate the money they make from that job to their cause of choice.  I don’t know anyone who gives their credit card number out on the street and so employing these volunteers in actual paying jobs seems to have a higher ROI than them standing there giving me the guilt trip.

I held that view until I realized that they are not looking for money as much as they are looking for members.  And not just any member, but one that is cares enough for their cause to give their credit card out on the street to someone they do not know.  These are your core, life-long supporting members folks!  These are members who will not just donate the $25 there on the spot, but will probably donate to the cause for the rest of their life – and at higher monetary levels.

Since it’s the connection they want, not so much your money, I think they should be asking for your name and address instead of just money.  They want members they can send targeted requests to for the rest of their lives.  If they asked for monetary donations and contact information it would be even better.  Strangely, I’ve never spoken to one of these volunteers who wanted anything other than my credit card.  They should at least take my name and number so they can have a point of contact.

If what they want is a touch point then why not collect contact information as well as credit card numbers?