Fundraiser says connecting to donors is key to passion
After two years as a professional face-to-face fundraiser, Pagan Knill not only receives praise from donors on a regular basis, but she also says her role has impacted positively on her.
Pagan is a self-employed charity brand ambassador within Appco UK’s fundraising network and signs up high numbers of regular-giving donors for the charities she represents.
Just as importantly, the people she speaks to often call in to praise her genuineness and positive, friendly attitude. She says engaging with each donor as an individual is very important, but making sure she connects to each charity she represents also makes a big difference.
Given your first-hand experience, what do you think are the benefits of face-to-face fundraising?
There are lots, for both fundraisers and the people we speak to – and the charities, of course.
For me, I can see and listen to a person to tailor the information I provide so that it’s a much more personal experience than if they were just watching an ad on TV.
For donors and potential donors, I think having someone to speak to directly gives them the chance to ask questions they might not otherwise be able to ask so easily.
Whether it’s about the sign-up process and how their donations are managed, or specific details about the programmes the charity is operating, a good fundraiser will have the extensive knowledge to answer all those questions there and then.
Those discussions are so important because it means the donor can feel passionate about the issue too.
But even more than that, the human contact is so important. Interacting in person, people are more able to have a laugh and understand each other so much better.
Donors you’ve spoken to often take the time to give great feedback on their conversations with you. Why do you think that is?
I am a professional and believe my role is important, so I take it seriously. I research every charity so I can give people the information they need.
Doing my homework also helps me find the things about the charity that make me really passionate. Knowing that I’m making a difference for really worthy causes is a good feeling and I make sure that comes across in my conversations.
I also think about the personal connection I have to each charity, which helps to promote their message in a meaningful way.
For example, my great-nan was helped by the British Red Cross when I was younger, and the Anthony Nolan charity is special to me because I’ve had a friend pass away from leukaemia, so that’s something that connects me to the charities’ stories.
And finally, it’s important to remember that the people I speak to often have connections to the charities I’m representing, so I approach every interaction with sensitivity and treat every person with respect. This helps both of us to connect and have a better conversation.
How does the positive feedback affect you?
It’s obviously very motivating. Sometimes you can feel that you’re just plodding along, but when I hear about the phone calls from donors saying how much they appreciated your visit, it shows you that you’re doing things right.
It boosts me to know how much I’ve helped. Hearing the numbers of people who have signed up with me to support charities over the last two years makes me feel really proud of what I do – and thinking about the impact that’s going to have on the charities, it’s amazing.
You obviously make a difference to the people you speak to and the charities you represent, but what impact has this role had on you?
I started as a face-to-face fundraiser in March 2014, and to be honest, I wasn’t really that good. I’d never done anything like it before, and I wasn’t very confident.
I used to be quite shy, but I’ve grown to be comfortable talking to people, both professionally and in my personal life. It’s something that gets mentioned when I go back to my hometown. People notice how much that side of my personality has developed.
Another thing that has changed has been my financial management. I used to be terrible with money, and have improved so much in that area. I’m good at setting goals and working towards them.