October 1, 2009

Rant: Clipboard Brigade On 24th St

This email from a reader (to remain anonymous):
I am incredibly liberal. And I am a do-gooder. I plant trees, volunteer my time, donate my money, and generally do what I can for causes that I back.

But I have to tell you. I absolutely hate the people who stand on the corner of 24th and Noe. They drive me nuts. I try to be cordial. But it's hard. I live on 24th and Noe and work on 24th as well. Which means I pass these people 4-5 times a day. I'm sick of being solicited for passing prop 8, caring about a woman's right to chose and saving the whales. I support all these things, but I'm sick of being solicited.
Agreed!! Take your clipboards to communities that don't already back your cause. Or is it just about money and not votes? (Staff at EQ/CA replied to this tweet last month that they come to NV because we contribute the most money. Tweet since removed.)

So how do you react to them? Smile and say "sorry" like you would to any panhandler? Cross the street to avoid them? Give them time/money? Our favorite tactic is to act like they don't exist.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am with this reader 100%. I tweeted just the other day, "Can't figure out which I hate more, aggressive snarly panhandlers or chipper nineteen year olds with clipboards."

Grr.

Anonymous said...

OMG, me too! I gave money to the prop 8 folks and the next seven hundred times I encountered them and told them I'd given them money, like, yesterday, they still tried to get more from me. I've resorted to crossing the street or fake talk on my cell phone.

robertol said...

Ditto with the above. It seems like we have a quorum on this. I suggest we start a petition. I'll be at 24th and Noe to get sigs and $$$ from everyone.

Anonymous said...

Hey, fund raisers (or panhandlers, for that matter) are people, too. For us it's an annoyance, but they got to do it somewhere to get paid. I at least acknowledge them as people and say "hi". It doesn't help their cause (since I rarely give any money on the streets), but at least at the end of the day I didn't make them feel like they were treated like s**t.

To treat people as invisible or worth being ignored is a habit encouraging inhumanity and resentment. Bad karma.

Anonymous said...

"Take your clipboards to communities that don't already back your cause" - this would make no sense at all. Their whole point is raising money for their organizations.

You might as well ask why Bob Jones University isn't holding bake sales in front of the Chase building. Or why last year so many Obama/DNC people were in the neighborhood, and not one Sarah Palin dittohead canvasser.

They're not preaching to the converted. They're taking donations from the converted.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the ones that are respectful, when I say no, thank you and move out of my way.. It's the ones that stand in my path and as I say no thank you, continue to harass me anyway. Those are the one's that irritate me..

But I do see the point of the anonymous reader.. If I had to pass them 4-5 times each day, no matter how polite they were, it would make me crazy..

noe lover said...

I couldn't agree more. Here's what really bugs me: These folks are not volunteers; they get paid for standing there and bothering us. In other words, part of the money you donate goes to their salaries. We are paying them to bother us! Give to the charity directly instead. Yes, some of that money will go towards administrative, advertising, etc., but at least it's not going into these bozos' pockets!

Godot said...

Agree with one of the anonomi - 1:38pm - above: they do it to raise money. No other reason.

Don't try logic, that only applies to raising awareness and bringing in the unwashed masses. We are well-washed in Snowy Valley - squeaky clean. They know where to find a lefty sucker with disposable income...

Personally I tell them all my spare money goes to raising my kids. But sometimes it's fun to just engage them if they're harassing you about a topic you know an awful lot about to see where you can stump them.

Anonymous said...

Oh, God, are you ever right about this. I started walking down Elizabeth instead of 24th, just to avoid them.

I know they're just trying to make a living and blah blah blah whatever but so are telemarketers and the people who leave menus on my doorstep every day.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY! I was starting to think I was the only one that felt this way. Like many of the above, I too am a liberal individual who agrees with just about all of the "causes" I get solicited for. However, the daily deluge of emotional "panhandling" is driving me nuts. And i'm sorry, but i'm not giving you or your organization $$ whilst on the street.

As i understand it, many of these solicitors get their commission based on the number of signatures or cash they receive. So just like a car salesman, they are on the prowl. And being Noe Valley, it's open season. Some are pleasant and not pushy, but i find many use the "guilt" tactics to implore sympathy. Sorry...not buying it.

Even more frustrating...I suggest engaging in a conversation with them. We've spoken to a few (on a number of causes - from the ROTC, global warming, or a representative) and found they can't say much on the topic that's off script. Furthering my belief they are doing it to a. just make money or b. b/c they think it's socially cool. This doesn't help there cause at all.

I now have taken to crossing the street prior to interacting with them – which is tough since they usually stake out on 2-4 corners, 2 people per corner. Used the fake cell phone tactic just yesterday ;)

Since noe valley is known for restricting many things (like restaurant zoning, etc). surely we can restrict the number of panhandlers (emotional or literal) that seem to flock to our neighborhood on a daily or weekly basis. I don't mean to sound cold, i'm just frankly exhausted from the daily deluge!

Anonymous said...

Completely agree - time is money. And in this overpriced city, unless you are a trustafarian or a student, stopping to sign some petition is wasting what everyone only has a limited amount of - time.
If you agree with the cause, support it online (which saves paying some mis-informed kid from asking "you care about children, don't you?" or some other guilt-laden opening line) and saves trees (you care about trees don't you?) and time.
Keep the sidewalks open for the stroller brigades and panhandlers (who really do need the money).

Anonymous said...

Is that to say you will not sign my petition to close The Peaks bar and their completely obnoxious loud all hours of the night bikers?

ooeygooey said...

If I stop long enough to say anything to them, I ask for a website where I can read about their cause at my leisure and donate if I choose to. I have a policy of never signing anything or donating any money to people who solicit me at my door or on the street. Just refuse all requests, period. Even for state ballot propositions.

Anonymous said...

This is the WORST tactic for an organization. It angers me so much to be accosted on the street by these $1 per signature clip-board wheeling guilt peddlers that it makes me AVOID donating to these specific nonprofits. If Greenpeace thinks this is good for their cause, they should think again. I pray that this is a quickly passing phase for the fundraising profession.

Also, for anyone interested in investing their philanthropic dollars wisely, are you really going to be swayed by a line like "Do you have one minute to spare to save a kid?" and just suddenly open your wallet without reading up on the organization's impacts first??

Anonymous said...

Geez: don't be so quick to dis our rights to free speech and to peition our government. You don't have to sign anything,talk to the peitioners, nor give them money, But you better give them their space. Judging by all these comments, it looks like neo Noe Valley has politically turned to the right and has become intolerant. Or maybe it just the people who read this blog. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

Let me guess - you're one of the petitioners...

There was no mention of banning petitioners AND the city already has a policy on solicitation. I think that the residents are only requesting that the petitioners abide by those laws. If you feel you can’t, then take your case up with the board of supervisors and get it overturned (as well as petition in other neighborhoods). I’m sure that would be a great use of your free time.

laney said...

It's true, the people who stand on the corners, though they might have great political ideals, they are not volunteers, and they are generally not there to sway public opinion toward their ideals. They are there to make money. Some get paid by the hour, but many get paid by the signature or they earn a commission based on how much much money they bring in. It is largely driven by self interest. Which is fine, albeit, but totally annoying. I really don't like that I can't walk down my block without being solicited several times a day every single day. I absolutely hate to be rude to the people who do it. However, there are some days that I just want to get my coffee and go to work, or go on my lunch break or go pick up my kid and I don't want to have to deal with talking to people and turning people down several times. It's disheartening and it's stressful. Canvasing in that way is statistically ineffective at best. I'm not sure why they continue to do it. I wish they'd stop. Is there a way that we can change this?

Anonymous said...

For future reference, not wanting to be hassled by a paid solicitor with a clipboard is NOT a sign of "turning to the right and becoming intolerant." It's a sign of wanting to walk down the sidewalk without getting hassled. I'd rather be hit up for change by 5 panhandlers than run into one of these annoying kids.

laney said...

Agreed completely.

Anonymous said...

Just pull out your cell phone and pretend to be talking to someone.

Anonymous said...

While it may be a simple mistake, saying that the solicitors ask your support to *pass* prop 8 re-inforces my fear that a lot of people voted *for* prop 8 thinking they were supporting gay marriage.

kitchen bitch said...

They are very aggressive at times too. There must be something that can be done to limit the number of them on a given corner on any one day. Perhaps we can partition that they have a designated spot sort of how they do it in the airport they put all these type of people in a booth off to the side and they can't solicit outside that area? Bevan Dufty what do you have to say about all of this?

Anonymous said...

Give me the good old days when people soliciting signatures were actual VOLUNTEERS. They were getting signatures for something that they believed in. It wasn't a job. I used to enjoy talking with them and understanding their views. Now, thanks to the out of control California initiative system, collecting signatures is just another business.

mulls said...

Just say "no thanks" and keep walking. I'd prefer them on the corner than at my front door at 8:30.

Anonymous said...

Do all you people with comments live in Noe Valley? I didn't realize so many Noe Valley people were so uptight and have to scheme just to walk on 24th Street.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I crossed the street 3 times to avoid having to say "no thanks" yet again...it's so annoying...they should move to other neighborhoods.

function/over/form said...

HINT:

As soon as you see them in the distance, pretend that you just received a call on your cell phone.

Better yet:

Use this opportunity to actually call your grandmother/father, mother/father, brother/sister, wife/husband, best friend, etc.

This never fails.

Anonymous said...

Based on some of the comments I read, we may have to start calling our neighborhood Nimby Valley...

C'mon folks, they're trying to cut gang violence and street crimes just down the hill (Mission), and this is the biggest problem in our neighborhood? We should be so lucky.

Anonymous said...

Okay, guys.

I understand the frustration. I get it. I see people with clipboards all the time in my own neighborhood.

I'm also one of those people with clipboards. Occasionally at 24th and Noe.

I can tell you that no one from my organization tries to harass you. If you say "no thanks," we'll just tell you to have a good day, enjoy the sun, whatever. It really doesn't bug us at all. Not the good ones, anyway.

But the one thing I wanted to say: I care about the cause I canvass for. Yes, I need the money. I just graduated a $40,000 a year college and it's not a great economy. But I'm paid per hour, not per contribution, and I took the job because I care a whole lot about what I'm out there for. Everyone in my organization does. I can assure you we are all well informed, and we most certainly can hold a conversation with you completely off-script. In fact, most of us are speaking from our hearts and not on script most of the time we're out there.

We're out there because it works. If you don't like it, don't stop for us. It's okay. We're not going to chase you down, we understand you see people all the time and we get that you're busy.

And we can always tell when the phone call is fake. And it hurts more than a simple "no thank you."

Laney B. said...

For the last anonymous poster, I understand that you believe that you are being respectful and kind, but I must disagree with you. The petitioners are anything but respectful. Stating that they are is either self justification or delusional. It's not the presence or the mission of the clipboard brigade that is annoying. Everyone has a right to petition of course. What is more disrespectful than annoying and bordering on harassment, are the tactics which are used to attention. First off, there are very few of the petitioners who are graceful.
If they simply stood there and caught my eye as I walked by, and then asked if I'd like to sign a petition or donate money for *insert cause... that would give me the opportunity to fairly say yes or no. Another great tactic would be to set up a table or a sign saying, "please stop for a moment to discuss how you can help with nuclear disarmament But the tactics used are not subtle or polite. They are simply annoying. Someone is walking down the street, and clearly does not want to speak to the person holding the clipboard. The person holding the clipboard can tell that, the person holding the clipboard KNOWS that because the person walking by speeds up their step and avoids eye contact. This is an easy to recognize social cue and would only be misinterpreted by someone who did not understand social cues. The clipboard people, (who are most likely not on the autistic spectrum) still proceed to start screaming "EXCUSE ME, HELLO, HEY, HEY THERE, DO YOU HAVE A MINUTE TO HELP STOP GLOBAL WARMING?" This ignoring of popular societal recognized social cue is beyond annoying. It is harassing. So, here is a person walking down the street who with body language has clearly communicated that they have no desire to speak with you, yet you still insist on engaging with them. Harassment pure and simple.
The next, and most obvious point, is that guerrilla clipboard canvasing doesn't work. It's inefficient at best, a waste of time, energy and money. The statistics are out there.

Laney B. said...

And by the way, please don't whine about having graduated from a $40,000 a year college. That should not be part of this argument. That was your choice, and you clearly had the means to do it. If you didn't, and you took out loans, again, your choice.

Anonymous said...

If you just graduated from a "$40k/year college and you cant find a job and you're doing this..well, then........ah..

you went to the wrong school.

life is hard, get a real job.

Anonymous said...

Okay. The clipboard girl from above is back.

Laney, I only mentioned that I went to a $40,000 a year school to agree that I need the money, or I wouldn't be out there. I have loans to pay off. I assumed, upon entering college, that I would graduate in an economy that would allow me to pay them off. Boy was I wrong, eh? I'm not "whin[ing]" about it, I was merely conceding the point.

Anonymous poster above, this is a real job. I've learned more skills applicable across the board doing this job than I have at any of my others. It has helped me with everything from my law school interviews to renting apartments. I stand on a street corner and take abuse from people all day and still manage to raise money. I feel comfortable asking for just about anything at this point. It is a difficult job that requires a lot of energy, discipline, and patience. Please explain to me how that's not a real job.

Laney, I know the statistics are out there about canvassing being a waste of money. That, however, isn't the case for all organizations that canvass. We make money. We get people involved. We would stop going to these sites if they stopped doing well. They haven't. When we stop making money, the canvass shuts down. That's just how it works.

And again, I don't make claims about other canvassers. But my coworkers don't harass you. Really. We don't all suck, I promise.

mulls said...

Good lord, let her do her job, and you can do yours which is just walk on by if you're not into it. I mean, I see petitioners on the street, but it's far from aggressive or accosting in my experience. Relax.

canvasser said...

To start, I just got home from canvassing.

I have had this job for about 4 months now. In that small amount of time I have managed to raise close to $20,000 for the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage. The only reason I show up every day is because I know that I am having an impact for gay rights. Had I chosen to not do this job, hundreds of people from all over the country would not be involved in legalizing same-sex marriage for us Californians.

I have been spit on, yelled at, called a fagot, even hit once. Most have been by people who claim to be a “Christian”, but it hurts more to be ignored. Especially by people who claim to be liberal. Let the crazy conservatives have all the anger and hate, just smile and say “No thanks.”

For all those people who HATE me, realize you HATE me simply because you are socially awkward, and don’t have the ability to kindly and respectfully say, "No thank you." You allow a literal 5 second interaction with another human being make you so enraged that you make a blog so that you can feel some sort of social or community acceptance, behind your computer, in the comfort of your home.

If one of the challenges in your life is being asked to help a child, or to help allow same-sex couples marry, then you should be a very grateful person.

To all those people who pretend to speak on the phone, or cross the street:
Were not dumb, we know what your doing. You look stupid and very awkward and weird. If you don’t want to talk to me, just say "no thanks." There’s really no reason to be a bitch. People are rude to me all day long, you obviously know this, and you still decide to say a rude or homophobic comment. It's not ok to be mean. No matter what. So stop all this "hate blogging" and get a "real" hobby.

Peace
mg

I like "canvassar" said...

It's been a while since I've seen a better response than canvasser's. He/she is right. The twits who cross the street or talk to themselves on their cell are beyond socially awkward. Hopefully they show more respect to the dogs sitting on the sidewalk.

Look, it works like this: You smile and shout HEY to the next canvasser you see. They'll remember you as the friendly neighbor willing to give em the time of day. You might have to repeat this a couple times, but HEY don't hurt, so deal with it.

And another thing, you "so-called liberals" who aren't even tolerant enough to let others do what it takes to improve our quality of life - your picture should be in the dictionary under the word "hypocrite".

Have a great holiday and try not to step on Santa! -Mic

Anonymous said...

These clipboard carrying grifters are probably the same people who roamed the country scamming the elderly and the naive out of non-existant magazine subscriptions. I have never been stopped by them. It is probably because I am not a liberal. I believe charity begins at home and I work hard enough at a job I don't care for to value money above social approval. If asked if I care about children etc. I would have no problem telling these little Acorn stooges that I only care enough not to be burdened by children I was reponsible enough not to bring into the world without adequate support.

PixelFish said...

Sorry, I got to point out that canvasser's smug point about people just being socially awkward is at best oblivious, and rather ignorant. Many people have social anxieties and phobias and prefer to dictate the terms of engagement to manage this anxiety. When they've shown clear intent to not engage, and the canvasser engages anyway, you can be triggering one of their phobias or anxieties. The cumulative effect of this, particularly day after day, when the canvasser makes NO ATTEMPT to recognise that they've already engaged with this individual and received a negative AND further still attempts to circumvent their "do not engage" signals can be very taxing. It's *great* that you can brush this off as "socially awkward", and feel superior to those folks. (Sarcasm, yes.)

Some of the little mind-games canvassers play, such as pretending to be a friend, or ordering you to "smile" or "stop right there" are not really friendly. Getting into people's personal spaces and/or touching them is also inappropriate. If you are a canvasser who doesn't do this, that's awesome, but so many of your ilk do, and those that play these games represent their charities poorly.

If you want to be treated politely, encourage your fellow canvassers to also be polite. A simple, "Do you have a second for X?" without impeding foot-traffic should suffice. (And if a foot traveller has thrown off clear signals of do not engage, it is polite to abide by those signals.)

PS. Interrupting conversations among friends is also rude.

generic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
generic said...

First off, stop commenting anonymously. It's confusing and it marks the reader as a careless douche who can't be bothered to type in a name.

Second, I'm an SF resident. I'm a gainfully employed digital media professional. I'm also a petitioner. I'm a volunteer. I'm NOT doing it to raise money.

Sweet Jesus, I would rather do anything than petition. I'd rather dig ditches. I hate it. I hate interrupting you during your activity. I hate soliciting your attention. I hate disrupting your book or your conversation, or, hell, just precious moment's peace. I hate hate hate that I'm lumped in with those who are paid to collect signatures -- a vocation I hold slightly higher than pond scum. ($1 per signature? Really? Geez.)

But I do it anyway because I (yes) passionately believe in my cause. Because the thing that I care about isn't gonna happen any other way.

Yes, you loathe me. I kinda loathe me, too. But I'm willing to incur that loathing to get the buses in this city to run on time. Just a thought.

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