A Wee Rant About Chuggers

Sadie, my 20 year old daughter was recently accosted on Argyle Street by one of the many ‘chuggers’ – charity muggers – looking to sign up donors to a charity for children. Sadie’s a much nicer person than her Dad and took time to explain that she’s a student and short of money and that when she’s earning she might be in a position to contribute. The fired-up chugger’s response was to tell her how many children will die in the meantime. Now, I already detested this form of fundraising but this story brought it home.

Defenders of the practice – now shifting focus to door stepping and cold calling – will say that (a) done well, it’s harmless and takes the charity message to the people (b) it is effective in raising the profile and vital money for worthwhile causes.

Indeed the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association reported recently that

· £54m is generated in new direct debit pledges each year

· 92% of chuggers operate within the Code of Practice for this sort of activity

· the number of complaints is so small that it can’t be a problem.

Whatever the research says I can’t help feeing that chugging diminishes the public regard for charity and the effectiveness of charities in making the world a better place.

Cyrenians don’t employ fundraisers at all. People donate and give other support under their own volition because they see that we make a difference and we don’t waste money aggrandising ourselves or feathering our own nest. I’m not hair-shirt and sanctimonious about it – we have to spend sufficiently on management and administration and on communicating our social message – but I value that our support comes from the heart, not just the wallet, and goes to the heart of the problem.

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