10 essential steps to running an effective cash collection campaign

10 essential steps to running an effective cash collection campaign

Fundraising Detective Craig Linton provides top tips on how to run a successful cash collection campaign


Cash collections are an unfashionable and often overlooked part of the fundraising mix. Yet this year, the Royal British Legion aimed to raise £1m in a day from collections across London, and Children in Need had thousands of collections across the country that contributed to its record total.

The popularity of giving to collections is reflected in CAF’s UK Giving 2012 report, which shows that cash is the most common form of giving. 

On average, a decent collector in a good spot should collect £30-£50 per hour. The best collectors, however, can collect over £100 per hour, which is a pretty good return and compares well to other more sophisticated and expensive fundraising methods.

So, how do you go about running a successful collection?

Here are my top tips:


Before the day:

1. Recruit as many volunteers as possible to assist with the collection. 

Students, service organisations (such as Rotary) and faith groups are usually great prospects.


2. Get your front line staff involved (especially if they wear a uniform) to help with the collections.

It is much harder to say no to a nurse or soldier than a man in a suit.


3. Plan where you are going to place collectors.

Look for the natural traffic flows in the area you are collecting. Place yourself near bottlenecks, main routes of traffic or where people have their wallets/purses out. For example, near ticket barriers at train stations or as people leave a shop.


4. Make your collectors stand out.

If you don’t have an instantly recognisable brand, many people will walk straight past. As a blind charity, we’ve used signs that adapted the famous sign used by a homeless blind man to increase his collection. It read: “It’s a beautiful day. Please help someone who can’t see it”. Anecdotally, this greatly increased our collection totals.


5. Make sure you have the relevant permits and permissions in place before collection.

You should also follow the Institute of Fundraising’s code of fundraising practice.



On the day:

1. Show people a smile.

As Simon Painter of ragabonds.org.uk, a group of volunteers who’ve raise nearly £1m collecting, says: “Smiling and being chatty is a sure fire way to get donations.” However, you also need a thick skin. “It’s not all rosy, so be prepared,” says Simon. “It takes a thick skin to spend a day on the street being treated like you're invisible.”


2. Keep it simple.

Giving a succinct description of what you are collecting for and asking a closed question boosts giving. For example, it’s hard to say no to the question: “Would you like to help an injured puppy?”


3. Bring a bucket to collect money in.

Hold it chest high in front of you. If you don't have a bucket, try using two collecting tins and holding them as high as possible. This catches people’s eye from 15-20 feet away so they have time to decide on whether to give or not.


4. Be polite.

Always say thank you and how much you appreciate the donation. Try to make a positive impact in the few seconds you have. We want people to feel good about giving so they do it again in the future.


5. Get people’s attention.

Fancy dress or any entertainment, such as carol singing, will boost your collections. By attracting attention and offering something in return (a sense of fun, music, entertainment), there becomes a degree of reciprocity.



Craig Linton is head of fundraising at RLSB and blogs at Fundraising Detective

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