Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shave The Children

Every year I commit a number of days to selling copies of the Vancouver Fashion eZine print collectible at charity fund raisers, partly in my mother's honour. For those who do not know, her unexpected passing provided me the ability to financially back the first Vancouver Fashion eZine print collectible.  She was very active in giving to charity, so I find this a great way to honour both that gift and her memory.   In one way it is exhilarating to meet new readers and to be able to make a difference in a more significant way.  In another, it can be very tiring and challenging.  No matter if it is an easy or tough crowd to sell to, I have a job to do and after anywhere from 4-9 hours sitting or standing by my poster and pile of magazine, I am exhausted.

Whether my husband Glen would agree or not, it really is a bit like fly fishing.  You set up what you hope will be an eye catching display (the lure).  When someone's interest is caught, you make the effort to engage them (reeling them in).  There are four possible outcomes from any of these encounters:  they are not interested and walk away, they think about it (sometimes they do come back and purchase), they decide to follow the magazine online or they purchase a copy (landing your catch).  Only when a magazine is actually sold do you help the charity.  Being passionate about what you are selling and the charity does help as it comes through when talking to a potential purchaser. Which charity you're raising money for can also have an effect.  Being able to get the opening line out smoothly is a gift as the day rolls on.  I am reminded of my daughter Danielle who did charity fund raising when living in Australia.  Her favourite faux pas at the end of a long day was, "Have you heard of Shave the Children?"


Over the last year I have had the privilege of raising money for: Big Sisters, Dress For Success, Ronald Macdonald House, Vokra, Vancouver Aquarium, Beauty Night, Starlight, From Grief to Action, Christmas Bureau, Covenant House and more.  During that time I have learned a few things.  There really is no point trying to catch someone's eye if they don't want to look your way.  It's a waste of time for both of you.  I also have learned what a look of polite disinterest is and how to quickly finish so the person can move on.  It is a gift of their time for someone to let you talk when they really aren't interested, so I try and treat that with respect.

The only person I have trouble with is the one who sneers.  Whether I am at a general event helping to raise money or at a market where all the vendors are working hard to cover their booth costs and come out ahead, it is a commitment of our time.  You can politely ignore us and we'll get it.  No need for a further statement.  Other helpful things - a comfortable chair is a god send during a long day, no coffee for 45 minutes before you start and very limited beverages until you finish (I think we ALL know why), food and snacks that can be nibbled between talking to people and flat shoes unless you intend to sit the whole time.  Most important is to maintain that genuine smile and warmth which will draw people to you.  As you get tired, this probably becomes the hardest of all.

Today is the last day of a three day event for me.  At this moment it's difficult to get that energy and enthusiasm up. I also know that this is the day the tongue starts to get seriously twisted and the line doesn't roll out easily.  It's a matter of really digging deep because at the end of the day comes the moment where I get to hand over that envelope of cash.  It's a bit like giving birth.  Not all of the process is fun, but the end result makes it all worthwhile.

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