Donor's Eleven - the different types of people who give (or don't) to bucket collections

nfpSynergy DEC fundraising

Donor's Eleven - the different types of people who give (or don't) to bucket collections

Discover the traits of various different people that charity bucket collectors and street fundraisers may meet in this comical blog. You may even recognise yourself! 
Michele Madden
Disasters Emergency Committee nfpSynergy fundraising

Joe expresses his delight (or horror?) at matching the £2k we raised with another £2k!

What happens when you get a load of researchers doing bucket collections for a day? Apart from raising £2,000 for the DEC East Africa Appeal (which we matched with another £2,000), you get an automatic desire to categorise donors into different typologies, of course. Here’s a tongue-in-cheek look at what nfpSynergy staff encountered when we were at Liverpool Street station collecting for Plan International UK. Some of them might ring a bell if you’ve done a stint collecting….

  • The passionate one: clued up on the issues, passionate about the cause and annoyed that others aren’t donating, these people generally give larger amounts – notes are not uncommon. However, they are very rare. They can be slightly worrying for the collector as these people will often know more than them about the issue.
  • The smiler: happy to give and glad that you’re giving them the opportunity to donate, these people are full of thanks and encouragement. They make the collector glad that they are volunteering and give them heart to carry on for another hour.
  • The sympathetic sceptic: these people want to give, but will make sure that the charity, your t-shirt, identification badge, the bucket and/or cause are above board. Will donate after inspecting your badge closely.
  • The furtive one: they get their money sorted out of sight; they then return to put their money in the bucket with a very serious face, with no eye contact, without saying anything, and don’t respond to your cheery ‘thank you’. Surprising and slightly unnerving for the collector.
  • The ‘digesters’: it takes them a while to process the message that the collector is shouting, and realise or decide that they do want to give. They then stop in their tracks (making those behind them a little annoyed) and search for their purse or wallet, return to the collection point, and give.

DEC charity collection
Tim Harrison, our director of Tracking Research and Harri Smith from CharityComms on their way to collect at Liverpool Street Station

  • The apologist (1): earnest and slightly furtive, this group scrambles around in their purse or pocket for money and pops whatever they can find into the bucket with a muttered apology about it ‘not being very much’. They don’t realise that whatever they are giving (apart from the man who gave 3p) warms the collector’s heart as they’ve been ignored for the last 10 minutes.
  • The apologist (2): these people apologise for not having any money to donate and hurry on. Their feelings of guilt about not giving can make the collector feel awkward for asking, and may result in an apology in turn.
  • The tease: they make eye contact, smile, nod and encourage the collector but walk on by with no donation…
  • The virtue signaller: they're already doing lots to help the world, and don't want to give - but they still want you to know that they’re ‘doing their bit’
  • The rushers: these people are too busy to stop and give, and unfortunately comprise the majority of people. Let’s face it - we’ve all been there.
  • The active rejecters: for this group, charity begins at home, and this fact must be stated very loudly and slightly aggressively.

We were lucky and had no negative experiences from the general public which I understand is not always the case.  We all came back with slightly sore throats and renewed respect for street collectors everywhere.

Have we missed anyone out? Please let us know in the comments section below (located underneath the social sharing buttons), or share your own experience of bucket collections!

Submitted by Russell Benson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2017


THis is brilliant - so true!
My only addition would be the charity staff or previous collector - the one who says, 'I once did this for the Poppy Appeal, so know how difficult it is' or the community fundraiser.

They put in a coin regardless of charity and place, because they know how it feels!

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