“Have you been approached by a vegetable yet?”
This is a guest blog. Juliette, AKA Ms Tomato, volunteered with Oxfam at the Edmonton Coldplay show.
Being someone who thoroughly enjoys donating my time to good causes, I jumped at the opportunity to combine going to a Coldplay concert with garnishing support for a great cause. But what exactly was this organisation called Oxfam?
After some Googling, I discovered that Oxfam was right up my alley – I am a firm believer in equality, social sustainability and women’s rights. And i’m a true food lover!
But I lost my appetite completely when I discovered that one out of every seven people in the world goes hungry each day. While enough is food produced, it simply is not reaching some people, because the food system is broken. How can that be when I can order in at the touch of a button and take home a doggy bag after each meal?
Sitting behind my computer contemplating the unfairness of it all, I needed to vent my feelings and chose Facebook as the place to do it. Speaking to others about the food system sparked some interesting conversations. I could distinguish between two groups: people who had no idea about the injustices in the food issue and those that didn’t really understand the facts. I knew i’d made a good decision signing up to talk to people about why we need to change our eating habits for the better.
Volunteering at the concert in Edmonton, in my giant tomato outfit, I thought carefully about how best to approach the hordes of Coldplay fans. Since the band was the uniting factor, I thought casually dropping their name seemed like a good strategy! Here are some opening phrases I decided to use that had the most success:
“You must be a huge Coldplay fan; well did you know that Coldplay is a huge Oxfam fan?!”
“We’re touring with Coldplay and would like to tell you about Coldplay’s favorite charity: Oxfam!”
“If you give me two minutes of your time I’ll tell you how to get your picture on Oxfam’s Coldplay tour website!”
The phrases which actually had 100% success rate to pledge sign-up were: “Have you been approached by a vegetable yet?” and “You are probably wondering why I am dressed like a tomato, well let me tell you….” Coldplay’s name did not necessarily need to be mentioned for Edmontonians to show their support to the GROW campaign, though it certainly helped!
Some strategies proved more successful than others, and with Coldplay’s diverse fan groups we had to adjust our opening line depending on age, gender and group size. But what truly helped was my tomato costume. It drew the crowd’s attention and many people even approached me and asked if they could take a picture of the Apple, the Strawberry and the Tomato. So in retrospect, maybe I underestimated the genuine interest of Coldplay fans in this good cause!
Within just two hours we had over 60 new sign-ups. Although we were exhausted and had no voice left to sing along to our favorite Coldplay songs by the end of the night, it had been an extremely rewarding and satisfying night!
To find out more about volunteering in your country, contact your local Oxfam. More information here.