For the Good Cause: a face-to-face fundraising interview experience

Their names are Aya, Lianna and Angela. Lianna is 19 and comes from a small island “nobody ever heard of” near Madagascar. “Melbourne was calling me,” she told us in our group interview of why she moved here. Lianna is some kind of artist who loves theatre and literature.

Aya is 23. Her family is originally from Sudan and moved to New Zealand ten years ago as asylum seekers. While her family is in New Zealand, Aya came here on her own and now living alone. She is, like Lianna, artsy. Aya is a pretty one, with a stunning and shiniest pair of dark eyes  I’ve ever seen. She has black skin and medium-length kinky hair like the Africans.

Angela, 23, came from Congo, also as an asylum seeker. She said she’s passionate about social causes, especially domestic violence.

I watched them and I felt pity. They are young, talented, full of aspiration to make a difference, to do something for poor kids, homeless people and poor animals.

“You work nine to five and at the end of the day, you can feel good about yourself — that you did something good for the world,” said Drew, the guy who interviewed us. And suddenly, I felt disgusted.

It was a windy morning of Jan 9th, my 10th day in Melbourne. I went to an inner suburb called Carlton for a group interview as a face-to-face fundraiser. There were six of us in the interview room. Great hourly pay plus commission, paid super, company parties once a month, fast-track promotion for the right people, road trips throughout Australia with all expenses paid for, great prizes for hitting targets and more. Those are the words this fundraising company uses in their job advertisement. ”Interruptive marketing” is the word I recalled from having read about face-to-face fundraising. This is purely business. It’s totally a sales job disguised as a work for the greater good. I was there for money, while these kids, they believe it.

It was a rewarding morning for me, talking, sharing and getting to know all of them. This is what I’m here for, to explore, to meet new people. And these young people, somehow, in that room, inspired me. Next week I might bump into them on one of the streets in Melbourne, and walk away, just like most people do when encountered with face-to-face fundraisers. For every dollar you donate, I wonder how many percents go to the homeless or poor kids and animals, and how many are paid for the vacation of fundraiser’s team leaders, managers, and those in higher positions.

On the way back to the CBD, Lianna and Aya were exchanging their favourite numbers (and the reasons why!) and cool tattoos on various parts of their bodies. I asked them before we parted how they would handle the rejection from people who are annoyed by face-to-face fundraisers. “You just tell yourself that it’s okay. It’s a part of this job. You just have to keep trying. What’s more important is you’re doing something for the society,” and I could see the twinkles in their eyes.

This post welcomes discussion.

(Today’s Prompt: Brilliant)

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