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#46 Sweating the small stuff

The biggest news I heard this week was that 80% of the past year’s PFRA breaches were simply due to easy to fix poor field management.

This means that eight out of ten offences are caused by Team Leaders taking their teams to the streets without a permit, having no or invalid ID badges, not wearing their uniform, or deciding that the only stopping technique that works is to offer a handshake to passers-by.

Here’s why we need to sweat the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things, fundraising with the charity logo obscured by a winter jacket may not seem like a big deal, but it can be a symptom of a much more serious disease. Apathy.

A lack of concern for the PFRA standard shows a disdain for the sustainability of our industry. To paraphrase Carl Young, PFRA Australia Chair, Fundraising Director at Peter Mac, and proud face-to-face fundraiser exclaimed at this week’s PFRA AGM, “2017 had its challenges so we must continue to raise our standards if we are to sustain face to face fundraising in order to continue the good work of helping our many worthy beneficiaries.”

It is a common truth that Team Leaders are the beating heart of our f2f agencies. A Team Leader will guide, train and coach our new fundraisers, set a culture for the squad, and sign up the majority of our new donors, so we need to be sure that these people are the best possible versions of themselves.

Sadly, some street managers are not always the ideal fit for the job. This is because some suppliers struggle with staff turnover that leads to a replacement culture where a manager leaves because they didn’t have the skills or training to succeed and is replaced by the best candidate – a good fundraiser with a driving license. This fundraiser can sign up new donors but, like their predecessor, may not have the natural managerial ability and does not receive the ‘world class training’ that is promoted on the job ad.

Poorly trained leaders make poor decision. No permit, no ID badge, no uniform and physical contact are all considered minor issues because they don’t understand the true impact and think “we won’t get caught”.

In a volume-based industry, these behaviours are often overlooked by senior management because they need to hit targets, and their top performer forgetting a badge and shirt will not prevent them from working a shift.

It is up to us, the ones who care enough to read these articles, do our research, and stomp the streets for seven hours a day to push back on the unruly fundraising and corner cutting that is poisoning our channel.

A highlight of the AGM for me was the brave demonstration of a top tier agency’s struggle to coach and control team behaviours and the eventual sanctions that came their way. For many, this is the only time reality hits home and you are forced to take note of the situation you have slipped into, but like them, it is not too late to make some changes and long term improvements that ultimately generate better returns for all.

They tightened up their processes and put your best foot forward. They have lowered the fever and now lead a much healthier, happier and compliant team of fundraisers. To paraphrase Carl again, “we need better training, better managers and better locations [if we are to succeed]”, so let’s have an honest chat with ourselves, swallow a bitter pill, and show the sector that face to face is fighting fit.

PS: Happy mothers day to Genevieve and all the mums that are shaping our future xx

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