Why I won’t stop to donate to charity collectors
Many of the charity collectors you see on the streets don’t work directly for the charity and get commission for every person they sign up. Is this really a cost-effective method of fundraising for charities? I don’t think so.
Walking home last week, an exuberant woman jumped out in front of me waving her arms. Yes, the dreaded ‘chugger’.
You know the ones, those in-your-face young things (I’m 37 and feeling old this week) clutching a clipboard and trying to get us to sign up to a monthly direct debit for the charity of their choice.
I’m not particularly proud of the words that crossed my lips in response, but I equally don’t feel guilty that I refused her advances. I already donate each month to a charity that I believe in. I don’t want to be accosted in the street by a charity collector who is being paid to sign up as many people as possible.
Show your support independently
Often, the chugger doesn’t work for the charity, but rather for a private contractor. This company earns a fee for every person signed up. In many cases the chugger is on commission too. Which means the charity in question may see not a penny of your donations for at least the first few months, if not longer.
Even signing up online yourself is not without hurdles. When I set up the direct debit for my monthly donation I made it clear that I didn’t want any further day-to-day interaction.
I told the charity: just take my money and spend it wisely. Don’t waste half my donation on sending me begging letters, fridge magnets and mass-produced ‘personal’ notes from ‘beneficiaries’.
It didn’t stop them sending me junk mail though, and I had to contact them twice more to stop it. I support the cause, but if I think a charity is wasting my money on unnecessary marketing, I won’t donate at all.
Does the benefit justify the cost?
I realise that all this must be an effective money-raiser for many charities – that’s why they do it. But which of the following is better?
(a) A charity earns £1m a year from voluntary donations and traditional fundraising
(b) Chugging and direct mailing brings in an increased total of £3m a year, but £1.5m of this goes in commission and advertising.
For the charity’s coffers, option (b) is obviously better. For the donating public, it’s much less clear-cut and will leave many people feeling ripped off.
Making me feel bad for rejecting a chugger in the street or for not buying an orphan-and-maltreated-donkey calendar just damages a charity’s brand. And if a charity loses public trust, it might as well pack up and go home.
PS. A note to chuggers: I admire your enthusiasm, but zany jumping about went out with Timmy Mallett in the 80s.
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