Canvassing For Gay Rights In New York City Sucks Much Worse Than You Imagined

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.

Via Original Plumbing

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  • Spike

    If you live in NY its annoying. Its not just one area or one block… you go anywhere and these poor kids are there trying to stop you. AND…you feel guilty even if you already signed up. WORSE…and no lie, just this week I had them come to my door. I guess these two young go getters decided why wait for someone to walk by them, they’ll go door to door ringing buzzers. Annoying!

  • Ben

    I’ve worked for The Fund and done exactly this type of canvassing for the HRC. It is indeed soul-sucking work, but the truth is that they raise an incredible amount of money. In 3 months, last summer, I raised about $15,000. About $5000 of that went to me. I would guess another $2000 or so went to The Fund. The remaining $8,000 went to the HRC. Would the HRC have raised that much without canvassers basically working fulltime? I’m not so sure. And yes, they teach you all of these ridiculous things, like how to greet people, the clipboard, etc. but it’s all about selling a message in under 5 minutes. In this case, that message is equality.

    With that said, I’ll never do the job again. Most of the people working there are not what I would call activists. They’re just kids looking for a job. This is what annoyed me most about the job. It was strictly about money, and very few people actually cared about the message they were selling to people. And of course, you couldn’t possibly object to any actions of the HRC, or that would damage morale and lower the fundraising. It’s just as much selling a message to the general public as it is to the people working there. Also, the insanely high turnover rate makes watching people constantly come and go because they can’t meet a quota incredibly depressing. I feel like I’ve done my duty on the fundraising side of non-profits and will never do it again.

    Oh, and one final note, it’s not just the HRC that the Fund canvasses for, it’s also a variety of environmental non-profits. Pretty much any canvasser you see asking for money is getting paid.

  • fuzzy

    I got a job with a place like FPIR once. Walked away the next day. Their message was good and most of the canvassers seemed to believe it, but the manipulative way they interacted with everybody made me ill. Wish there were better ways to raise money for good causes.

  • Baxter

    There has been at least one lawsuit against the Fund for treating its workers terribly: paying them below minimum wage and forcing them to work overtime without compensation. I would never suggest working for them.

  • Jackson

    I’m also a former Fund worker. Disgusting work conditions.

  • Jeffree

    The canvassers also hedge & blush when you ask them about how long they’ve been involved with LGBT equality issues.

    It may be just the ones I’ve come across, but they don’t seem to have been LGBT allies until they started waving their clipboards at random strangers on the street.

    [I am polite to them though because I know they’re just doing their job].

  • Mike_AFX

    I worked for the fund and on my first day I achieved the highest amount of donations out of my other coworkers and immediately became a “permanent” hire-on. Unfortunately for them, that was my first and last day. I’m a people person, but the whole waving thing is just ridiculous. Also, I was coached by a girl who literally told me to yell “HI!!!!” across the street to people to get them to talk to me. Ummm, yeah sorry. That’s awkward, not gonna do that. :D

  • eatmybush69

    new yorkers suck major peen

  • Benanana

    I’m currently working for FPIR, and quite honestly I think it’s ridiculous to view these guys in such a negative light. There are sometimes embarrassing training sessions teaching an encouraging you to do things out of your comfort zone. You are taught to, indirectly, be manipulative and persuasive to people at doors and the streets.

    And you know what, that’s what works the best and gets the most money out of people. Considering the opposition to the issues these guys are working on have a shit ton of supporters and money, we do what we can. It’s kind of hard to play 100% fair in a game that constantly cheats and caters to the side with the most funds.

    So yes, if you can’t handle it, then move along. But this is a good amount of money going to issues that are out numbered already, that wouldn’t otherwise be accruing this much. Canvassing has proven to be very effective, and it’s here to stay.

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