THE PUBLISHERS’ PAGE
BY HEINO MOLLS
The ranks of volunteer charity canvassers have more than a
fair share of Realtors. The reasons for this are obvious to me, and this page
in REM has made reference to that fact in the past.
Realtors, by their nature, are generally not fearful of
knocking on doors. Certainly many in this industry have done enough cold
calling for their own business, so they know what it is like to call on people
at their homes.
Realtors also, by their nature, are community oriented and
truly care about the services that desperately depend on volunteers to knock on
doors for funding, in order to provide comfort and care for those who need
help. The need for more volunteers to canvass for charity is desperate.
Let's face it. It's a tough go. Who wants to go knocking on
doors asking for money? There are easier ways to contribute to the community.
Let somebody else go begging for the such and such foundation. If you have
never done it, you do not know of the cold nights, the never-ending walks in
the dark, or the mean‑spirited people that can be encountered because their dinner
may have been interrupted or their Saturday morning routine may have been
It is the height of irony that many people who decline to
give to charity at the door are the very people who are helped by the meager
funds the volunteer canvasser brings in.
There is no pay. There is no one for company. There is very
little thanks. There is just house after house, on canvassing routes that are
getting longer every year. There are pens that stop writing in the cold. Your
hands get chapped. You can get a chill that is damn near impossible to get rid
of. And it seems that you have to walk a hundred miles.
And you never know if you are going to get enough, let alone
any donations at all, so why even risk going out?
What can you expect out there? Well, here are some sweeping,
unscientific, and highly prejudicial remarks on volunteer canvassing for
charity that are based on experience.
People in upscale neighbourhoods, contrary to many people's
conception, do give generously. They scrutinize you more. They really do listen
to what you are saying and you have to show them your credentials. But when
they give, they are generous. By the same token, the ones who do not give in
these neighbourhoods are by far the most argumentative, the quickest to dismiss
you, and the most demonstrative, vigorous door slammers you will ever
encounter. What you rarely get at these doors is an excuse such as, “I
gave at the office” or “I always mail my donation”.
In the “not so affluent” neighbourhoods, in
complete agreement with many people's perception, you can pretty much count on
a donation at every door. You do not get excuses here either. If they have
nothing to give, they will tell you. But by far, in fact by miles, just about
every household has a fiver or sometimes even just a twonie. If a guy answers
the door with a beer in his hand, you can count on a twenty, minimum. I
don't know why that is. I just
know that it is.
The hardest, longest and most lonely neighbourhood you can
canvass is what most people refer to as the “middle class”. Suburbia.
If you get a donation from one out of three houses here, you are doing
exceptionally well and should consider putting on a clinic for the rest of us
who aren't near as successful in these areas. One out of four is great. But you
can expect one out of five.
Now here is the point of all this. I want to urge you to
become a volunteer door-to-door canvasser. If you are already canvassing for
charity, please consider taking on an additional route. You already know you
don't get much thanks for it, but you also already know the rewards are
immeasurable and even overwhelming.
Remember that should you need help one day, for something
like a special wheel chair or counseling or just the luxury of a plain hot
meal, it won't come to you from the government or your benefit plan. It will be
there because somebody who's name you will never know was out
there, asking others to help you.
And that person may just have been your local Realtor.
Heino Molls is publisher of REM.