Sunday, August 26, 2012

Street fundraising gets results with leghold traps

Street fundrasiers in Metro are claiming major success with their new leghold traps campaign for the Community Green Trust. The traps have so far raised ten times as much money as expected for the Trust’s new Greenhouse capital fundraising campaign.

“We’re more than pleased with the way our new street fundraising campaign has been going,” says Trust CEO Turner Snidely. “We expected to raise just $10,000 from the street, but with these new ouchy traps we’ve been able to raise nearly $100,000.”

The brainchild of Big Invoice, a national ad agency, the leghold traps were introduced only last week on two busy intersections in downtown Metro. The traps worked better than suspected. Heavy, rusty and difficult to set-up, Snidely says their initial reaction was that the traps would be more trouble than they were worth. That changed when the number of people stopping to give rose dramatically.

“We were unsure how effective the traps would be. We already had a very successful street fundraising program and the idea of using those big, ugly traps seemed like a waste of time,” recalled Snidely. “But our ad agency, Big Invoice, told us that their research showed that traps made people stop. So we thought we’d give it a try. We never knew it would be so successful.”

The usual “stop rate” for the Trust’s street fundraising is about five donors an hour. The average hourly take from a normal five hour shift on a street corner is roughly $150.00. With leghold traps the “stop rate” climbed to 45 people an hour and the average hourly revenue was $250.00.

“It was so successful that we literally couldn’t open the traps fast enough to get people to make a donation,” said Snidely. “They were all so anxious to give. It was amazing.”

Trust street fundraiser Dibble Brewer, 19, says the impact of the new traps on donors was something amazing to watch.

“Most people just pass us by. We try and tell them something about the campaign. Or we do a little dance or something. Some of them stop. Most don’t. But when we started putting out leghold traps it was totally different. People were stopped dead in their tracks. Sometimes literally,” he said.

The site of a potential donor in a leghold trap was so powerful that in some cases crowds gathered to watch a donation being made.

“This one dude was like in the trap and I was filling out his donation form while he was yelling and I looked up and there were a dozen people there,” recalled Sally Toothpick, 23, another Trust street fundraiser. “I told them that they should give, too. And many of them did. They put cash in my hands and ran away before I could even issue them with a tax receipt. It’s like they didn’t care about that stuff, they just wanted to make a difference. That’s what philanthropy is all about.”

Snidely says the technique is surprisingly simple and cost effective. The traps are easy to buy at hunting surplus stores and are very inexpensive. They found the best way to use them was to place them outside banks and the offices of investment firms. Then they leave the rest to the spirit of philanthropy.

“Leave it to the people of Metro to reach down inside and make a difference on the environment. They just give and keep on giving. These leghold traps just bring out the best in people,” he said.

“Last week, one of the street teams left a trap out overnight by mistake and sure enough there was a donor there first thing the next morning when they arrived ready to make a donation,” Snidely said. “It just shows what kind of people live in our community.”

“Most people would think that a person caught like that would bite off their own foot to get out of there, but not that donor. It makes our work kind of special.”