Like it or not, everyone forms opinions based on the cars people drive. You do, too. If your sister calls you and tells you that she just started dating a guy who drives a Humvee, you will form a different mental image than if she says he drives a Prius. Or a '73 Vega. Or a Porsche. Or a minivan.
Similarly, if you are a fundraiser who drives to face-to-face meetings with donors, you should be aware of the message your transportation sends. Here are five easy rules that, all things being equal, should probably keep you out of trouble.
1. Your car should ideally reflect but at least not oppose your organization's mission. No gas guzzlers for the Sierra Club and no convertibles for skin cancer prevention.
2. Your car should not be significantly more expensive than what your typical donor drives.
3. Your car should not be so junky that it looks wildly out of place in your average donor's driveway. And no oil leaks either.
4. Your car should be easy to enter and exit. If you are driving an elderly couple to lunch, don't take a Miata.
5. No pets allowed. Even for animal charities, nobody wants dog hair.
6. Keep your politics, religion and college mascot off your bumper sticker.
Of course, these are just common sense guidelines, to be ignored when they chafe too much. One of the best fundraisers I know used to drive a sweet Jaguar, violating 1/3 of the guidelines, but putting her in a good mood every time she drove it.
Obligatory Tangentially Related Joke: A woman walks into a bar and walks up to one of the regulars.
"How many beers do you drink a day?"
"Usually around 3," the man responds.
"How much is each beer?
"So you spend around $15 dollars a day on beer?"
"Well, if you count the tip, it's closer to $20 . . ."
"$20 per day?!," she shrieks. "You spend $20 per day here? Every day?"
"Almost every day. They're closed on Christmas day . . ."
"How many years have you been coming in here and blowing $20 per day?"
"Probably 20 years now, give or take."
"Well, let's do the math on that. $20 per day times 30 days a month times 12 months in a year, let's see, that's . . $7,200 per year. Times 20 years, that's over $140,000 you've wasted. You could be driving around in a shiny new Ferrari convertible for what you've wasted on beer in this place!"
He takes a drink and looks at her.
"I'm going to guess that you don't drink, right?"
"Most certainly not!", she harrumphs.
"So, where's your Ferrari?"