If you’ve ever walked through New York City, perhaps you’ve come across young, clipboard-toting people who ask if you, “Have a minute for the environment” or for gay rights. These people aren’t activists working directly for Greenpeace or the HRC—they’re salespeople working for The Fund For Public Interest Research, a third-party contract company that works with various progressive non-profits.
The FPIR’s salespeople get a commission for each newly signed “member”—that is, anyone who gives over their card for a monthly donation. Taylor Black worked for the FPIR for years and knows all about their quotas, high turnover rates, and how they end up swallowing a good chunk of the money that members assume will go towards gay rights organizers.
According to Black, the FPIR had “acutely embarrassing” daily meetings teaching their salespeople how to wave, how to make eye-contact, and how to give perspective members your clipboard so they can’t leave. In regards to his work with the HRC, he said:
“As the office’s only homosexual [I was asked] to be in charge of the canvass for the Human Rights Campaign… They did send up a community organizer or someone who worked for them, an intern I think, at the very beginning to meet with me and talk to me a lot about the issues in he campaign, how much money they wanted to raise. And I just maintained an air of very fatuous affability, nodded my head and seemed concerned at the right moments. And I was sad to be a pied piper for all these very nice, young, straight college students out into the streets of New York to ask [for money] for gay rights.”
And you thought working at Pinkberry was the worst summer job in NYC—how wrong you were.