Clipboards vs. Creative engagement

Have you ever walked down a street, seen a cheerful looking human with a clipboard and hastily crossed the road to avoid the painful exchange that would undoubtedly occur?

Excuse me love, do you have two minutes to talk about changing lives?

You find yourself almost jogging past them, mumbling something along the lines of “Ah sorry, I have to feed my cat”. Terrible excuse. Terrible delivery. You don’t even have a cat. And then comes the guilt. That horrible wave flooding over you as you try and convince yourself you are not a horrendous person. 

Been there? I know I have. In fact, 35% of people said that talking to charity reps in the street would actively discourage them from giving to charity and 58% of people think that too many charities use unethical fundraising tactics. So, what can charities do to avoid alienating would be donors? 

The answer seems to lie in creative engagement rather than aggressive fundraising tactics. Take the Blue Cross, an animal charity, who recently launched the “Blue cross Tap dogs” at a charity event this year. Volunteers walked around with a team of dogs equipped with contactless card technology on their vests, allowing people to tap and donate £2. This novel and quite frankly adorable technique worked a treat and is going to be replicated at similar events in May. 

Virtual reality (VR) is also being trialled by charities, in a bid to create empathy and stronger emotional connections. TOMS, a shoe brand who donate a pair of shoes for every pair bought, used VR to take shoppers on a virtual journey to Peru to meet some of the recipients of the shoes and charity partners who distribute them. Amnesty International also utilised this technology, by creating a 360-degree immersive experience showing the complete devastation caused by barrel bombs in Syria entitled “Fear of the Sky”

These charities could be on to something. Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, is currently studying if VR makes people more empathetic than other forms of media. He is exploring this theory in relation to homelessness by comparing the emotive responses of those who experience a video or some literature to another group who have a VR experience. After each experience, participants are asked to sign a petition for housing for the homeless. These methods could encourage the 70% of potential donors who agree that they would be more inclined to give to charity if they knew how their money was helping. 

Creative fundraising methods can actively encourage people to donate to charity and engage a new demographic of donors. So, could it be time for charities to embrace the change and ditch the clipboards?


Ella Britton is part of the JWT team working on the TAP launch. A street-art fanatic & also a passionate advocate for social change, Ella brings a huge amount of energy and smarts as a dedicated contributor to our initiative.