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Effective tips to selling fund-raising flags in Singapore

I won’t consider myself a veteran flag seller, since I’ve started my work as a flag day volunteer few years ago in aid for various VWOs such as the Singapore cancer society, heart foundation, St Lukes hospital, Viriya and the President’s Challenge just to name afew. Since then, I’ve bagged close to about 100 of flagday hours, so I guess my experience learnt from my own experiences here will prove useful for anyone starting or beginning to sell flags as a public volunteer or with your designation school flag day. Shared here are some pointers and tips:

Do your homework
Know and be well versed the beneficiary and deeds, this is very useful not only in getting yourself out a fix when asked but will increase the chances of a higher donation.

Collectors rights
Of all the flagday’s I’ve done, nobody had ever asked me for my collection permit. However, have you collector’s permit with you at all times, it contains many useful information such as your beneficiary addresses and contact details in case any member of public were to ask you for it, with reasons ranging from verification to providing a big direct donation of their own. Collection canvas/polyester bags will normally have a pouch allowing you to hold your flags as well as your permit, do bring a small pouch or bag just in case your organization uses metal tins, where you will unable to store your items together.

Best locations
Ranked on donation per-hit (success rates and not crowds)

  • Raffles place open field/Shelton way (weekdays only)
  • Between Jurong east (and Boonlay) interchange and MRT
  • Ang Mo Kio Hub between bus interchange and MRT
  • Vivocity (weekends)
  • Parklane at Selegie (my little favorite spot by 7/11)

You can always find alternatives just outside various major MRT station exits, where it is still legal to ask for donations there.

Please note that those few areas are high traffic areas so sometimes things can get rather zippy and people might not or be inconvenienced to stop (and block traffic) to donate despite wanting to.

Orchard, compared to the rest, despite the crowd is quite difficult to get effective donations, and you will have a high chanced being chased away by security guards unless you stand on the “no man lands” area between shopping centers, in other words you are better off in the other areas above. Similarly in Raffles place, flag raise around Newton/Novena area for lesser, but higher-valued single donations, as the area is rather frequented by an affluent population. Worst places to sell flags will be Little India and Chinatown or if you do not know dialects.

Best collection time
Most flag days will usually last during office hours, let be whether it’s held on a weekday or weekend, therefore it’s usually impossible to do collections past dinner time, which usually won’t be required either as the general crowd for most areas usually peak only in the day.

City offices area on weekdays: 8-9am (morning rush hour) & 11am-2pm (lunch time, includes Raffles, Shelton way, etc)
Shopping areas on weekdays: 11am-1pm (lunchtime) & 5pm-7pm (shopping/dinner crowd)
Weekends: From 11am on wards to end of dinner crowds (7pm)

Remember, work smart, not hard, other than the times stated above, that is usually the “dead period” where you will either get a dip in donations or meet alot of people who had already donated. Its is usually advised to rest in between these periods. Relax, take a break, it’s completely OK and give it your best again when the peak crowds surges again during the meal or “knocking off” crowds.

Best contributors to your pool based on demographics
Anyone can donate, but not everyone will, so knowing and being selective of who to go for will not only save you time/efforts (instead of asking for blanks), but also allows you to fill your tin donations faster with a more efficient use of your resources.

Based on even pool of donors of a given sample, success rate based on gender:
65% female, 35% male. (women are more giving)

Probability (low-mid-high) of donations based on age:

Children: 1-12 (low, but accompanied with parents, or in child prams- mid-high)
Teens: 13-18 (low-moderate, except those exceptional few who help in flagdays, otherwise the average Singaporean teen cares less about giving)
Young working adults: 19-34 (some of them have traits of the “Teen” group, therefore a large range, the exception are those with higher disposable income, therefore the large, low-high probability this group has)
Baby boomers: 35-59 (Highest probability of donations mid-high)
Elderly: >60 (depending on locality affluence: low-high)

The bulk of successful donations usually come from middle aged to elderly women, together with families with young children. These are the people you should give preference to when choosing who to go for in a crowd, they are more likely to donate to you. Students will usually won’t be able donate (especially younger kids) as they do not have much cash on them, but they are the most honest bunch- I even came across few cases saying that they their parents only gave them $10, so they can’t do anything. Adults tend to use “donated, personally supported, no change” as the main excuses, though some cases of “no change” will lead to large single $2 and $10 donations if you employ the tips in the following “sales techniques” section at the end of this article.

Tourists: These are usually a stubborn bunch, but the most talkative too. Generally 1 out of 10 asked will donate, they will usually talk to you and give you advice on how to “work” for fund raising (e.g car wash, selling lemonade, etc) and not (literally) beg on the street. But if they do donate, it will usually be a very large sum (up to $500 in a single donation).

Expats: Working expats in Singapore follow much the statistics form the average Singaporean crowd in terms of demographics similar to the baby boomer, but will tend to give more ~$2 per donation on average due to their possible higher disposable income.

Flag selling sales techniques

  • There will always be a short awkward period when the donor takes the time to reach into their bags/purse or look for change, take this time to tell them about the beneficiary as well as how their money will be well spend in helping others, the chances of a higher donation will come 90% of the time.
  • Smile always at them when asking for donations, with the exception of a few, they will usually smile back with a kind gesture even if they don’t donate. This little humane things can make your flagday experience more enjoyable.
  • If you happen to sell flags at a public spot near a convenience (7/11, cheers, etc) store, stand by it’s exit as people will normally drop off their change in hand for you. Standing by entrances also gives you some air-conditioning as well, which wells alot in comfort on a hot day.
  • Smile and thank donors who already have a flag day sticker/donated there is a 50%/50% chance they may turn back and drop off few dollars into your tin again.
  • Give the sticker first – This is a technique I learned from one elder veteran fund raiser, give the flag day stickers like free gifts without any strings attached (i.e just say “we are having our flag day, free sticker for you!”) thats all, then the donations will usually come as people feel obligated to do so. Do so sincerely with a smile or people might feel exploited. Likewise, children will usually be thrilled by this. Only do this if you have a surplus of stickers though.

Ok that is all I think I have to share with respect to selling flags in Singapore, hope the information prove useful or provide a more realistic insight of what to expect in yours, especially if you are doing your first!



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