Chuggers: a menace or a necessity?

Today there are 40 charities using “chuggers” – charity muggers – to get members of the public to donate to their cause. Are they a menace or a necessity?

Below, Community Care content editor Lauren Revans argues they are responsible for increasing cycnicism towards charities while production editor Adam McCulloch says they make a significant contribution to funds.

  Lauren Revans: “Chuggers fuel public cynicism.”

Chuggers is the unflattering name for face-to-face fundraisers, derived from the words charity and muggers. This in itself is indicative of the low regard in which they are held by many. And I believe there is a real danger of them dragging the charities they work for down to their level in the public’s mind.

The tactics employed by these individuals invariably seem to involve harassment, coercion, and, in my experience, some degree of deception. They are usually being paid to stand in the street or ring your doorbell, yet rarely seem to know much about the cause they claim to be fighting for.

These people may currently be responsible for bringing in significant proportions of charities’ incomes. But, in my eyes, their very presence is also helping to fuel the public’s growing cynicism towards the charitable sector.

The question is: are the extra pennies today really worth the potential loss of the public’s trust and support tomorrow? I doubt it.

  Adam McCulloch: “They are fearless and indefatigable.”

So chuggers earn money? Big deal. Charities surely are entitled to pay for a service. Presumably their buildings and employees cost money. Are we objecting to charities using their money to pay for these things?

The figures show that chuggers make a significant contribution to charities’ funds and gain direct debits from people who routinely ignore expensive adverts and marketing material. In short, they make money that the charity would otherwise never see. Surely that’s worth paying for?

As for giving charities a bad name, you may as well say people selling poppies on November 11 give war veterans a bad name. Granted, they are somewhat less pushy. But then the cause of war veterans has more leverage in our society than the needs of looked after children or the homeless.

The problem is that so many people have become so self-obsessed that they are frightened of being spoken to by strangers whatever the context. Even having to say ‘no thanks’ is seen by them as an affront to their privacy.

The chuggers themselves appear fearless and indefatigable. They are generally polite and articulate. Of course there are sometimes breaches of the code of conduct and some people absolutely hate being approached in the street. But, hey, nothing’s perfect. Leave the chuggers be, I say.

What do you think of chuggers – join in the debate

More information

Fundraising: Why charities love Chuggers


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