I don’t know how I made it through childhood. By today’s norms of bubblewrapping children from every potential mishap, my parents would surely have been frowned upon. Or arrested. Probably both.
Halloween was just outright child neglect compared to how parents operate today. We didn’t buy costumes, we made them – and by “we,” I mean us kids. The same ones every year for about 5 years. We were “hobos.” Probably not politically correct in 2015, but it was amazing transforming into an old man with a pair of dad’s old jeans, a rope for a belt, and rubbing charcoal from the grill on our faces for a little five o’clock shadow. Throw in an old pillow case and we were golden.
We would take to the streets until way after dark. No parents walked with their kids, it was a free-for-all. Knocking on doors saying “Trick or Treat!” not as a question, but because that is what was required to get the candy. So imagine our shock the first time a homeowner responded, “Trick!”.
Whoa….wait a minute. We were not prepared for that. We had no tricks ready to go. I hadn’t even thought about it. Everyone is supposed to either have their lights out or be fully prepared to hand out candy. How should I handle this?
Fundraising is similar to this in some ways. Some people turn their porch lights out and hide so you won’t bother them, while others are open to the visit. But what if you visit and instead of throwing candy in your bag they ask for something else. Are you prepared?
What if you send out your monthly appeal, and instead of just asking for donations, you requested anything that a person would be willing to give to help your mission. Some may give money, but others may say they can’t at this time. But they are more than happy to donate their expertise the next time you need a web design upgrade, or some sweets for an event, or to take photos at the next gala. These are valuable too.
How will you respond? Are you ready and able to accommodate their generosity? Will you take advantage of the information, store it in a place it is easily found, and have their name readily available for when that need arises? Having givers who are ready, willing, and able to donate something other than money does not make them less of a giver, but they often are not thought of the same way. Being prepared ahead of time for someone to answer your request in a way that you might not have expected can enhance your fundraising and your connectedness to every giver in your database.
So, the next time you say “Trick or Treat” be ready for someone to say “trick,” and then ask them what that trick they have is. Store it, use it, and do more good.