Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Ban Chugging?

16 February, 2010 - 12:02 -- John Burton

This week's Third Sector Magazine (the charity world's trade press) carries a feature entitled 'Should charities employ their own chuggers instead of using agencies?'. For those of you who don't know, a 'chugger' is a 'charity mugger' -- the people who stop you in the street and ask you to sign up to support a charity. Often operating in well-to-do areas they rely on people being embarrassed into signing up. These chuggers are usually paid by the number of people signing up, but it is very difficult to find out how cost effective they really are. Many charities using them justify their use by the fact that over the lifetime of the donor, it works out worthwhile. But every sign-up gets a fat fee for the chugger.

What is worrying about the article, is that there is an underlying assumption that chugging is acceptable. But to many of us operating charities it is a totally and unequivocally unacceptable method, which should be banned. Indeed some local councils in Britain have made moves to ban it.

Needless to say, along with almost all forms of unsolicited fundraising, it is not something the World Land Trust would ever engage in. But opinions would be useful. Should the WLT ever go out and ask for funds? Our experience has been that we command far more respect and attract long-term loyalty by not being demanding. My personal view is that the sort of people supporting a charity such as the WLT do it not because they feel embarrassed into donating, but because they genuinely believe that what we do is worthwhile, and are consequently as generous as they can afford to be. What do you, our readers think?


Submitted by Mike on

For me, it is refreshing to hear that not all charities find Chugging acceptable. Being harassed and guilt tripped in the street has put me off donating to all charities in the past. Any charity that uses this method damages their reputation considerably. Charities used to, and should employ ethics and integrity but the dirty tricks used to guilt people into donating has damaged the reputation of all charities.

The question I would like to ask is, if so many of the charities sector disagrees with this type of fundraising, what are they doing to try and prevent it. I don't see many charities doing anything to stop it let alone making it public that they do not agree with it. Some people may draw the conclusion that if charities are not fighting against it, then they must agree with it.

Submitted by John Burton on

The problem is that lobbying and campaigning on such issues does take time and resources. We believe that we are best concentrating on our core activities. In an ideal world perhaps we would do something about chuggers, but we simply do not have the resources. But we are most definitely firmly opposed to it as a means of fundraising.

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