At Char­ing Cross sta­tion, I stood up and blubbed a little

I offer you a lit­tle aper­cu from Char­ing Cross. For the whole of the month of Decem­ber, fundrais­ing at this busy cen­tral Lon­don ter­mi­nus goes all seasonal.

Written by
George Smith
May 15, 2011
Creating an aura of hope and moist-eyed emotion.

Every night a children’s choir sings carols to raise money for a whole sequence of good causes – it almost doesn’t matter which. These choirs are neither senior nor musically very adept; these are groups of primary school kids, wrapped up in their winter coats, brought in from their schools by their teachers to sing in public. Collectors, probably parents, walk around the crowd that inevitably gathers, with seriously jangling tins.

George claimed to be more Scrooge than Bob Cratchit, which is not true, but who is SOFII to shatter his reputation?

And they don’t have to dress up to do it. Or to eyeball you, or engage in hearty verbiage. They can just collect quietly in the knowledge that the kids have created the atmosphere in which you want to give.

And they don’t have to dress up to do it. Or to eyeball you, or engage in hearty verbiage. They can just collect quietly in the knowledge that the kids have created the atmosphere in which you want to give.

It’s not a religious atmosphere that they create. It’s just an aura of decency and hope and moist-eyed emotion. You’re watching an eight-year-old tot not quite making the descant in ‘Away in a Manger’, you’re watching the kids who are so tired that they’ve stopped pretending to sing, you’re watching the teachers trying to keep them in line.

Fundraising is about emotion. It always was, it always will be.

Look around the crowd and you can see that everyone is beaming. The old-fashioned word for this is goodwill and the new-fangled term is probably the feel-good factor. All I know is that I have wandered over from the Costa Café to beam. And that, when the teacher comes round with the tin, I give a pound. And that, on occasion, I blub inwardly at the sheer niceness of it all. You should know that I am more Scrooge than Bob Cratchit when it comes to Christmas.

So never let anyone tell you that fundraising is finally anything but an emotional business. It always was. It always will be. 

This is article is taken from George Smith’s seminal work, Asking Properly, (The White Lion Press, London).

About the author: George Smith

George Smith

The late George Smith (he/him) wrote his first fundraising ad for Oxfam in 1962. In his twenties he was appointed European coordinator for a major-league American advertising agency and, in contrast, was elected as a local councillor in an inner-London borough. He formed the Smith Bundy direct marketing agency in 1973 and served as chief executive for 20 years. During those two decades his copywriting skills were applied to many diverse commercial direct marketing clients, yet fundraising was always a specialism. In 1990 he was awarded the UK’s DMA Gold Award for work on Greenpeace.

Between 1987 and 1993 George was chief executive of the International Fund Raising Group, responsible for the celebrated Noordwijkerhout conference and a growing number of events around the world. He was also a director of Burnett Associates Limited. His monthly articles in Britain’s Direct Response magazine were published in 1987 as a collection called By George. He became chairman of the UK’s Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) in 1997 and is an honorary fellow both of the IDM and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.

George Smith also wrote Asking ProperlyTiny Essentials of Writing for Fundraising and Up Smith Creek.

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