Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Chugging and other fundraising complaints

13 July, 2010 - 12:00 -- John Burton

I have written several times about  'charity mugging' or chugging as it is known -- stopping people on the street and getting them to sign up. To me it is a dreadful way of gaining support, and although I have been severely criticised buy some of its supporters, I stand my ground, and would like to see it outlawed.

A report in Third Sector Magazine this week supports my view.  According to the Fundraising Standards Board (also not one of my favourites, see my previous post) the highest proportion of complaints about charities related to street fundraisers, followed by telephone fundraisers, door to door and direct mail. And these are all fundraising methods that the WLT has resisted using.

My view is that all these methods involve a degree of pressure, and we do not want supporters recruited in this way. A supporter who joins in because they have made a fully informed, unpressurised choice is in my view, far more likely to stay loyal.

This has been backed up by our experience during the economic recession. Personal recommendation and the news media spreading the word are the most important methods for fundraising for the WLT. I can't claim that the recsession  has not impacted us. It surely has, since our income for the first six months of this year has  only just about been equal to that of 2009; but at least it has not declined, and the number of individual supporters signing up monthly direct debits has actually increased.

So keep spreading the word. You, my readers, and your friends are worth any number of street fundraisers.


Submitted by Daniel on

I can just agree – I do not like being harrassed by people walking from door to door, begging for donations. Sometimes, you hardly get rid of them, because they insist on your donation. I also don’t like the yearly or monthly letters from UNICEF, Red Cross, animal welfare organizations etc. I have never supported before (and won’t support thereafter – they shouldn’t waste money for additional paper waste). I choose the organization I want to donate fo. And then it is ok, if they keep me updated about their activities like WLT does.

PS: Is the annual report already in the making, just for interest’s sake ;-)

Submitted by Ian Devlin on

I agree. I work near the Grafton Centre in Cambridge city centre and at least 3 times a week I’m accosted by people from varying different charities. They are very polite but it does get very tiresome to be stopped constantly.

Glad to hear that the WLT are not resorting to such tactics.

Submitted by John Burton on

Annual Report was approved at the recent AGM, and the summary will be published soon with our Summer newsletter. We will also get a version on the website. However, the past few weeks, with the Chelsea Flower Show, follwed by Elephant Parade, followed by AGM Board meeting have been very busy, so we are only now catching up.

Submitted by Emeri on

I also agree. I prefer to ignore street fundraisers. If someone wants to support charity, they will do so. Nobody neighter ‘mugged’ me, nor begged me into supporting WLT. I’ve decided to join rainforest conservation after watching The Planet Earth series, Living Together episode. There was an interview with one of the richest men in UK, who was buying rainforest to protect it from disraction. I liked the idea of conserving land through ownership, but didn’t like that it was owned by an ordinary greedy millionaire ( if he wasn’t greedy, he would give money to professionals). Who knows what he decides to do with it in future? And what will happen with indegious people living there? So, I did some search in internet and stopped my choice on WLT because of David Attenborough’s message. The reasons why I am still with you, you know already.

Submitted by Nick Henry on

Many charities aspire to developing their brand to such a degree that people will donate without the charity having to ask. So well done to WLT in being able to raise all the voluntary income it needs through PR and word or mouth.

Yet the reality is that few charities can ever achieve this and most have to actively fundraise to find new and continued support.

Of course, it’s entirely your opinion whether you think ‘chuggers’ – or indeed any other form of fundraising that you don’t approve of (or need to use), but that other charities absolutely rely on – should be “outlawed”, so I’m not going to argue with you.

However I must correct a factual error. Street fundraisers did not receive the highest proportion of complaints in comparison to other fundraising methods.

For most fundraising methods, FRSB gave complaints as a percentage of “contacts made” – such as the number of pieces of direct mail sent out or phone calls made.

However, because of the difficulty in estimating the number of contacts street fundraisers make, the FRSB chose to present complaints about street F2F as a proportion of donors signed up. As this is a fraction of the approaches they make to passersby, this inevitably resulted in F2F complaints appearing to be proportionally higher than other methods.

This distinction in reporting methodology is made clear in the FRSB annual report and the press releases that accompanied its launch.

Nick Henry
Head of Standards
Public Fundraising Regulatory Association

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