It’s one thing side-stepping charity muggers (sorry, chuggers) on the high street, but what do you do when you’re face-to-face with one trying to sign you up on your doorstep?
After a long day at work last week, I answered a knock at my door in my secure block of flats to a rather fatigued young woman.
She wasn’t selling anything, she promised – but actually she was selling a sob story, with a somewhat insincere script. And although her charity’s work sounded worthwhile, I wasn’t willing to sign up to a direct debit there and then on my doorstep.
There’s reportedly been a huge rise in doorstep chugging and complaints as a result – from misrepresenting charities to ignoring ‘no cold calling’ signs.
And now many of Britain’s charities are set to attend a summit about the future of face-to-face fundraising, as hosted by the Institute of Fundraising. The Institute’s chief exec has even said that the media coverage of chugging has ‘led to a wider debate about the value of face-to-face fundraising as a technique at all’.
The problem with chugging
Why can’t charities fundraise in more creative, less intrusive ways that don’t lock you in to direct debit payments?
We reported in January that some councils were moving to ban chuggers from our streets – but could that force yet even more of them on to our doorsteps?
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, which regulates face-to-face fundraising, stepped up its rules last October so that chuggers can only use main entrances, not campaign past 9pm and don’t ‘cause alarm or distress after dark’. But it’s the fact that they’re allowed on your doorstep at all that distresses me.
I’m pretty tough at saying no, but I still had to explain several times to my chugger that I don’t believe in giving by direct debit to charity. And I’d have felt more uneasy had there been a knock on my door on a dark winter’s evening.
The PFRA says that 72% of face-to-face fundraising now takes place on the doorstep – but what proportion of those householders feel embarrassed or even intimidated in to signing up?
Fresh thinking on fundraising
Having worked for a large charity in the past, I simply won’t give regularly to one cause. Every year, I pick one or two smaller projects that interest me, I’ll research them so I know how their money is spent and then contribute what I can.
My point is that charities should be more realistic about, and have more respect for, the people who may want to contribute to their causes.
For example, it doesn’t really feel as if enough charities properly embrace the potential of digital campaigning. From online auctions to organising micro-events via social media, innovation is out there, and it’s innovation that offers choice and the potential to truly participate. Not knocking on somebody’s door and compelling them to sign up there and then.
Should chuggers be banned from doorsteps?
Yes - chuggers should be banned altogether (doorsteps and high streets) (53%, 329 Votes)
Yes - chuggers should stay away from people's homes (34%, 212 Votes)
No - if the rules are tightened, chuggers can visit homes (11%, 70 Votes)
No - chuggers visiting homes is an essential way to raise money (2%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 634