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?