You know what makes our vendors smile?
You. Buying a paper, being their friend, rewarding hard work.
You, supporting Real Change, investing in success and showing that a broad community stands behind our vendors.
Last month, as part of the International Network of Street Papers Vendor Week celebration, I joined local celebrities to sell papers with our vendors in Westlake Park.
I learned something about the reality of selling Real Change in 2018.
In this new, hyper-connected age of instant communication, we can easily lose sight of the people right in front of us.
While my vendor partner and I made eye contact with downtown shoppers, energetically worked our raps and danced and smiled for attention, most people were more interested in their phones.
We made three sales in an hour.
Selling Real Change isn’t easy. It takes courage, motivation, planning and consistency to succeed. It takes a high tolerance for rejection. It takes a community of supporters like you.
We want to make sure that our vendors’ hard work is rewarded and that their personal growth is supported.
We want to ensure that our vendors have every tool for success that we can provide.
That’s why, now through May 31, we need your help to raise $30,000 for a number of new initiatives to support our vendors, including:
● New Training Opportunities: The Skill-building Workshop series draws upon the experience of successful vendors to teach sales and personal marketing techniques. Workshops will include stress management tools to advanced sales training and learning to build their own social media following.
● Visibility Tools: Our labor-sponsored high-visibility yellow vests help vendors communicate professionalism while making a statement that our vendors are workers who are supported by our allies in the labor community.
● Cashless Payment: As fewer readers carry cash, easy electronic payment removes the biggest barrier our vendors have to higher sales. This year, we’re building vendor success with the Venmo peer-to-peer cash payment app. This means more convenience for you and more earnings for our vendors.
● Easy Resource Access: This month, Real Change launches the Emerald City Resource Guide, a pocket-sized resource book for those experiencing homelessness and poverty. This new resource, to be published twice-annually so the resources are always current, means that access to vital services is at the fingertips of those who need help most.
● Bellingham Sales: Our satellite distribution office in Bellingham is volunteer-run and focused on creating new vendor opportunities and could be a model for successful regional expansion into new towns and cities. We’ll build support for this growing project by offering more resources for local and vendor content that bring our communities together.
Real Change means immediate opportunity to earn a dignified income and take control of one’s own life. Your support means that we have the resources we need to continue growing our work in these challenging times.
Our caring community of Real Change readers puts more than $1 million directly into vendor pockets each year. That’s huge. When you take the time to show a vendor you care, you show them that their work is valued and that they are not alone.
This can mean the difference between stable housing and losing an apartment, losing a hot meal or being outside on a cold night.
Our community of supporters makes all of this possible. About 70 percent of our annual budget comes from readers like you.
Your gift, of any amount that works within your budget, shows that our community values opportunity, quality local journalism and an effective, uncompromised voice of the poor.
When we take the time to really see the person in front of us, we build the caring and connected world that we need.
Please join us by investing in vendor success with your tax-deductible gift of any size today.
Thank you again for being a partner in this work. Our community keeps us strong.
Tim Harris is the Founding Director Real Change and has been active as a poor people’s organizer for more than two decades. Prior to moving to Seattle in 1994, Harris founded street newspaper Spare Change in Boston while working as Executive Director of Boston Jobs with Peace.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full March 14 - 20 issue.