September 12, 2011; Source: Boulder Daily Camera | Is there any nonprofit fundraising technique more controversial than street canvassing? Stand on the sidewalk for eight hours a day, accost innocent pedestrians, show them your laminated photos of endangered whales, starving children, or what-have-you. It’s thankless work and long odds; canvassing gurus say that a fundraiser who can sign up one or two monthly credit-card sustainers per day is doing really well. On the bright side, canvassers do get a healthy amount of sunshine and fresh air, especially compared to their telemarketing brethren.

Any city dweller worth his or her salt soon learns to spot the street canvasser from afar. They normally work in pairs, wearing the same color t-shirt or polo, holding a clipboard or three-ring binder, smiling and chirping, “Do you have a minute to save the environment?” Even if we manage to spot them ahead of time, many of us are just too polite to barrel right past . . . and then we’re trapped.

Enter Mighty Fudge Studios, a Boulder, Colorado creative services agency. The firm recently moved to Pearl Street, Boulder’s downtown pedestrian mall and a prime canvassing ground for solicitors from Environment Colorado, Greenpeace, Children International, and Planned Parenthood, among other charities. According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Mighty Fudge decided to fight the canvassers at their own game by hanging a collection of faux-canvasser clipboards on its front door for people to borrow as needed (click here for video and pictures). The fake clipboards are designed to make a standard pedestrian appear to be a fellow canvasser, a sure-fire way to avoid a sidewalk sales pitch. The clipboards also feature a variety of witty ripostes to canvasser sales patter plus handy tips for avoiding the perambulating fundraisers in the first place. The agency also produced buttons that read, “No! I don’t have a minute for…” with a picture of a clipboard behind a red slash.

For their part, the canvassers aren’t offended by the decoy clipboards. “I think they’re funny,” one canvasser told the Daily Camera. “We all got to do our jobs.”—Chris Hartman