Strategies and Techniques for Optimizing Your Canning Session
Hey everyone! If you are reading this guide, it means that you are about to go canning FTK! Canning is by far one of the easiest and most productive ways to raise your total for Miracle. It's basically free money!
With that said, the process of asking for donations to people who have been in bars all evening can be a little intimidating if you have never done it before (or even if you have!). What this guide seeks to do is make the entire process easier for you to raise money by giving you advice on 1. The Approach, 2. The Pitch, and 3. The Follow-Up Response. By having a plan for these three things, you will have more confidence and be much faster at collecting donations. Let's get started!
Goal: What is the main goal of canning?
This is somewhat of a two-part answer. Obviously, a huge part of going canning is to raise money for your total, and in turn for UGA Miracle/Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. But, (unfortunately) not everyone you ask will give you money. People may not even respond to you when you ask. With this in mind, our biggest goal is to have people walking away with a favorable impression of Miracle.
If your only interaction with Miracle is with the person canning, and the canner is rude when someone does not donate (which won't be any of you, of course), then your impression of Miracle will always be unfavorable. Though that one person is not representative of UGA Miracle, they have the power to change the public perception of the entire organization. By being positive, kind, and having fun in the face of rejection, UGA Miracle will be widely known as the incredible organization it truly is.
Here's how to make it happen:
1. Where to Stand and the Approach
Where to Stand:
In the one square mile area of downtown Athens, there are various places to set up camp. Ideally, you want to set up in a high traffic area, and the best place to do that is on a street corner. Some intersections that see high foot traffic include:
- Broad and Jackson St (Near Bourbon Street on one side or Magnolia's on the other)
- College Ave and E Clayton St (near the Wells Fargo ATM or on the other side of the street)
*Important* Do not go canning in an area that feels unsafe to you. While most of DT is fine, walking around with jars full of cash in dubious areas can be dangerous. Use your best judgment when picking a location.
People canning often shout at passers-by to see if they would like to donate. This method is okay, but only yields results part of the time. Most people having an evening DT do not want to be accosted by somebody asking for money, especially if they are trying to get to the next destination (or keep up with a friend that has had too much to drink). Here's what works better:
- Approach people when they are waiting at a red light to cross the street. In these moments, they are just sitting around for upwards of 45 seconds not doing anything and not going anywhere.
- Instead of yelling at them, the extra time allows you to start with a friendly greeting:
- "Hey man!", "Hello ladies", "Hey what's up guys".
- Or, if they are talking: "Hey everyone, I'm sorry to interrupt, but..."
2. The Pitch
By this point, you have already gotten their attention and they are ready to hear you speak. Remember, though, while you do have almost a minute to speak with people, they may not be willing (or able) to focus on you for the entire time. A specific, quick pitch is generally the key to success here. An example:
"Would you (all) like to donate to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (and UGA Miracle)? It's all for sick kids, all donation based, and they really need our help."
With this general pitch, you provide people with all of the information they need to make a decision. In 10 seconds you've told them what the money goes to, why it is important, and you've thrown in some elements to appeal to their emotions. Simple, right? It is!
If you see that a person or a group is willing to listen to you for longer (or they are not entirely convinced), you can use the extra time to tell them about Miracle, the hospital, or your own personal experience with either.
Luckily for us, our "product" (Miracle and CHOA) is well-known and universally well-received. Saying you're volunteering for Miracle and Children's often will do the job itself. (*This is why making a positive impression is so important!*) Use this to your advantage!
3. The Follow-Up Response
So now you're well on your way. You've gotten their attention, made your pitch, and now you're waiting for a response. In general, you are going to get one of these responses:
- "Sure, I'd love to donate" or "I think I've got a few bucks/ some change."
- "I would love to, but I don't have any cash on me. Sorry" or "I just have my card tonight"
- "No thanks."
- If they donate (oh yeah!), show true gratitude and positivity. Thank them for donating (even if it's only a few pennies), and remind how it all adds up to help the kids.
- If they don't have cash, don't be angry. With a smile, thank them for listening to you. It is often good to make a personal connection here, such as: "Yeah man, I completely understand. I only use my debit card nowadays, too." They'll appreciate the kindness, and feel more compelled to donate to another Miracler when they do have cash.
- Similar to the 2nd response, just thank them for their time and move on.
General Advice and Tips
So there you have it! With these three steps and a little practice, you will be well on your way towards helping the kids. As you are probably aware, people go out in Athens almost every night of the week (especially Thurs-Sat.), so you will have plenty of chances to go canning. To make your experience the best it can be, here are a few parting tips:
- When holding the can, always position it so that the label (which has a Miracle and CHOA logo on it) faces the people you approach, and be sure to hold it high enough (near the middle of your chest) that people can read it
- That way people know exactly what organization you're with and are more willing to donate as they recognize the "product"
- Ask for donations from people you wouldn't think to ask. You don't want to ask people that appear threatening (use your best judgment), but keep in mind that there are more than just college-age adults in Athens. The people you wouldn't think to ask often donate the most money (like $10's and $20's)
- Sometimes, you don't even need to ask someone for a donation. Throwing out complements such as "hey nice sweater! (but only if you really mean it) or commenting on the weather is enough to get their attention. Once you've had this interaction (with the can visible), they will often ask for what you are canning
- It makes the whole thing a conversation instead of a transaction, which is much more personable
- By not pressuring someone to donate while being genuine, people will feel happy to support you
- Do not get discouraged if things aren't going well. Remember that every dollar you receive is one more dollar that goes towards saving the life of a child. That's an awesome thing, and you get to be part of it!
- Plus, while there are slow spells, they are usually followed by huge rushes of people!
- Bring a friend! With two people (each with their own can), you can approach twice as many people. It's nice to have someone to talk with, too
- Dress for the weather. While a light jacket in the winter may cut it for the walk to your car from your room, it probably won't do the job when you are outside for 2 hours
- Stay the full 2 hours. You may start to get cold or tired, but every minute you are out there is another opportunity to spread happiness/raise money. Plus, the longer you stay, the more money you'll raise. Guaranteed.