Take a fresh look at charity collectors. Not the face to face direct debit breed. The cash collection sort – buckets, pass, sash, badge, coins. They are a unique & frankly understated tribe.
Last week I witnessed a sort of meltdown. Strolling through town on a Saturday morning I saw a middle-aged woman pushing a bike, scream with such anger and frustration it actually upset me. She screamed again as she passed and onlookers watched, partly shocked, partly embarrassed. It was a moment of raw human emotion – a deep scream of anguish or anger, or something darker. An hour or so later at the other end of town, the woman rattled a collection bucket before me for a cancer charity and laughed about the cold weather. I cannot imagine what was happening in this woman’s life or what she was going through. But there she was, in the cold, shaking a bucket when most of us, if truth be told would rather find an excuse.
In London, I leant on the rear end of the carriage on the tube on the way to somewhere I can’t remember. I had a clear view down the rows of seats. At almost the exact opposite end I heard a shout and looked up, along with everyone else. The tube is not the best place to create a fuss so our natural guard was up. But in the distance a young man dressed in hospital overalls rattling a large white bucket was busy collecting cash. He made his way towards me. Slowly and sometimes reluctantly people threw their cash in the bucket. Just before me he asked “Great Ormond Street?” I emptied my pockets as did the man next to me. “Your arms must be tired?” I said taking a peek at his badge. “A bit” he said. “Second one today”. “Wow, that’s good” I said observing that his name was Simon. “How long are you allowed to do this?” I asked. “Last day today – been all week so far”. The train slowed to a stop. “£7,400 collected” he said, smiling with pride. “That’s amazing”. I paused. “What makes you do it?. He looked at me – “Commitment” he said, smiling and putting his hand up to wave goodbye he stepped onto the platform and into the next carriage.
Take a fresh look at a cash collector next time. What moves them to do their bit? Simple – a small but noble sense of duty and responsibility, a sense of contributing, of doing their bit. Some real courage. A personal story as their engine. And above all, as Simon says – commitment