Yes we should! What a relief it was to find this article nestling on page 6 of the Guardian yesterday. A mystery shopper style operation went undercover to survey fundraisers in London. And, shock horror, their findings showed that in many cases the public were harassed, misled and outright lied to by these innocent looking youths in offensive coloured anoraks. To the extent that the charity watchdog Intelligent Giving, who commissioned the survey, are urging the public to boycott this method of fundraising completely.
I had not heard the term ‘chugger’ before yesterday, but I now know that it was created for face-to-face fundraisers because of its neat combination of the words ‘charity’ and ‘mugger’. Two words you might think of as mutually exclusive, brought together to describe a phenomenon that does actually rape your morals in the quest for your cash.
Many of them can be quite aggressive, refusing to back off if you are unresponsive. An example. “What’s your name?” Keep walking, affronted. “Why won’t you tell me your name?” Keep walking, still affronted. Me in my head “because I am in no way obliged to give you my name you cocky little… And if I did, you would probably write it on a form and then try to blackmail me into giving you my bank details, thus robbing me of £2 a month for life.”
Some are more earnest in tone, but disparaging if they don’t hook you. “Can you spare a few minutes to save the children?”…”No, I’m sorry, I’m on my way to work.” This is what I always say. Sometimes it is true. On this particular occasion I was, in fact, on my way home for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit before I went to work but this seemed like too much detail and my end destination was the same. He shakes his head and looks at me like I have just sentenced several children to death. Again, keep walking, to slow down is to appear weak. Continue walking and wondering if he deliberately implied that I could single-handedly save all the children. And whether, if I was going to do it myself, would it seriously only take a few minutes?
The squirming sensation that comes with walking towards an on the street fundraiser is a bit like walking towards the revolting boy you snogged once when really drunk after splitting up with the one you believed at the time to be the love of your life and never told anyone about, not even your best mate. You know you have to acknowledge them and that you will say something lame and they will know that you are lying.
But at least revolting rebound snog boy isn’t after your money. Apparently this method of fundraising brings in £20 million a year for charities. But how much does it cost? Hourly rates range from around £7.50 per hour up to a whopping £18! And many of them make commission too.
Even if the charities who employ these people do break even after paying their wages, is it a responsible way to deal with their donors? Is manipulation and bullying the best marketing strategy they can come up with?
To give to charity is a wonderful thing, but in return I want the warm glow of goodness, not the relief of a lucky escape from the jaws of a monster. And so I am resolved to boycott the face-to-face fundraisers guilt-free.