chapter 19 Door-to-Door and Street Canvassing

Canvassing is a technique that involves a team of people from your organization going door to door or standing on the street requesting contributions for your organization’s work. Some organizations also run phone canvasses. Most of the principles in this chapter as well as those in Chapter Sixteen on using the telephone apply to those as well. However, this chapter is focused on the face-to-face asking of strangers that characterize street and door-to-door canvasses.

The canvassing technique is most successfully used either by well-known state or national nonprofits (or their local chapters) or by local organizations working on an issue likely to be familiar to the people being canvassed. Canvassing is primarily an organizing strategy; no organization should undertake a canvass simply to raise money. Canvasses work best when the organization is doing work that directly affects the people being canvassed. Canvassing is often used in relation to political campaigns to get out the vote or to drum up support for a candidate or issue. Used in the context of organizing, canvassing can be an excellent strategy for acquiring new donors; by returning to neighborhoods, it can also be used for retaining donors.

Door-to-door canvasses and street canvasses are similar both in terms of advantages and disadvantages and in terms of organization. Although part-time or temporary canvasses can be run with volunteers, most canvassing is a full-time ...

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