From time to time, one of the ways I volunteer for Animal Education and Rescue is to sit outside the entrance to a grocery store and collect donations. We’re completely no-pressure about it. We just sit at a table, smile and say hi to people as they walk by, and say thank you whenever someone drops a donation in the jar. We have business cards and brochures available if anyone wants a reminder of our website, and we offer information if anyone has a question.
There are lots of opportunities to observe people as they walk and drive by. Over the many times I’ve volunteered for this gig, I’ve learned a few lessons.
1. It costs nothing to smile and say hello. Some people expend a lot of energy to avoid eye contact, as if looking at you will obligate them to stop and donate.
2. You can never predict who will respond if you catch their attention. A lot of people look intent on entering the store as quickly as possible, but once they hear you say hello, some people’s faces change and brighten to return the exchange.
3. If everyone gave $1, it would make all the difference. It’s astounding the number of people who enter the store during the few hours that I’m sitting there. Depending on the town, people are more inclined to donate $1 bills or $5. Unfortunately, most of the people who walk by don’t drop in anything. And I get it, a lot of people don’t carry cash any more, and for some, every dollar matters. But for most people, at least in this area, $1 wouldn’t be missed. If they only knew no one would look down on them for dropping in $1. If most people who entered the store dropped in $1, I wouldn’t be surprised if we could raise $1,000 over six hours. But most people don’t think like that.