Reggie and the back story

27 November 2015

I learned a lot about the power of a back story in fund raising last week, courtesy of a guy called Reggie.

I was lucky enough to be in Mindelo, in the Cape Verde Islands. This is a really fine little City but there are a lot of people in poverty there. Consequently one tends to get asked for money every few metres when walking along.

Reggie’s approach was refreshingly different. He walked briskly up to me carrying a clip board – a smartly dressed young guy – and said “I won’t ask you for money”. Immediately he has my attention. He told me that he was about to do his exams, that he wanted to go to College and wanted to be a Doctor. His daily journey to school and back is 15 km each way. He is hoping to do well in his exams but he needs some workbooks. Would I buy him some of these work books.

Long story short, 10 minutes later Reggie and I are shaking hands and he is walking off with nine shiny new workbooks.

What was impressive was the story that he had carefully planned and the approach that majored on self help and ambition, rather than simple begging or the sale of tacky souvenirs. I thought it was an object lesson on how to demonstrate the potential for impact in giving. I get to assist him to be a Doctor for the price of a modest lunch – result.

Of course it’s just possible that Reggie is the biggest unofficial supplier of work books in Mindelo, but I hope not.