/ Money

Chuggers – get off my doorstep

Shoes on a welcome mat

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

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Once they only tried to speak to you in the street. In addition to door-to-door a new tactic in the street is for them to approach with a hand extended, no doubt after someone read some psychological report stating that humans are more receptive to ideas after a personal greeting and physical contact.

Sorry chaps, I have seen the same reports and try to avoid tricks to short-circuit my natural avoidance of chuggers 🙂

Lisa says:
23 July 2012

Every year for the last 15 years I visit the same houses to collect for Christian Aid. Some on a council estate and some on farms and in the country side.I find, almost without exception, that people treat me politely even if they do not wish to give. I probably visit about 130 homes and have enjoyed meeting so many interesting people. Some have invited me in to see their collections, their internet triumphs, their gardens. Some have challenged what I am collecting for and enjoy a discussion. And its been very rewarding watching families grow, though also sad when when I find people have died.
I don’t know anything about ‘chugging’,and probably what I have written is a little off the point. But one to one contact has its good side as well as bad. Quite a number of people like to have the opportunity to have a chat with someone. And amazingly I find many people are very generous when they understnd and know about the cause. It is a very efficient way to collect, provided, like me the collector is voluntary and unpaid. And it’s very easy to politely refuse requests on the doorstep. I often have to do so. No one compels me and no one needs to compel you.

Hi Lisa,
As you say, Christian Aid collectors have been doing the rounds for years and, where I live, my collector leaves the envelope and collects a few days later, so I don’t need to see her at all, nor commit to an amount. This is good.
I disagree that it’s very easy to refuse requests on the doorstep – I actually think people (are made to) feel guilty refusing if they know it’s for charity – unless it’s just me?!

My daughter told me she’d got a job, as her mum had been nagging her. Much to my horror it was as a door 2 door chugger. She had 2 days to learn the patter then was out doing 100+ houses a day i the wind and heavy rain and was told to ignore no cold caller signs unless it was from the local police force or specifically mentioned no charities. After 2 weeks getting 4 people to sign she was “let go” as was wasn’t covering the £7 an hour they were paying her. I’ve never been so glad when she told me. Maybe if charities didn’t waste so much money they wouldn’t need to use such draconian measures. As you can tell I’m all in favour of banning them for good, just hope they don’t get hold of my phone number.

Rory L says:
12 December 2012

I am a graduate of Cambridge Uni and have recently made the move to Liverpool, I have just been reading your post. I myself am a door 2 door charity fundraiser.
I understand that people get many calls a month, however this an essential tool for many charity groups. I have been doing the job for 6 months and love it, apart from the VERY rude people, the majority of the public are brilliant and enjoy a chat if nothing else. Since being in the job i have raised over 10,000 for charity and thus I find the job to be very rewarding, I can promise i have not been paid in 25% of that and am paid an hourly rate as this stops people being too pushy on doors in order to get people to sign up!
Many people if they are given the sack make up excuses such as its not ethical! I feel people who are against giving to door 2 door people like me are not sticking their middle finger up at the fundrasier but the people its going to help. Just say no thanks if you dont want to give, dont be rude as we are people as well and it does not make us feel any better after 6 hours in the rain!


steve says:
13 April 2013

I wont chap your door if you dont chap mine i fed up with cold callers everyone wants money stay away please

Emma says:
25 October 2013

You fail to realize that it is people like YOU who are rude. I just had one this evening and I display a sticker on the door and the window. My husband politely showed her the sticker and said “no thank you” and she still proceeded.
People can’t afford to let in the freezing cold weather in these times and don’t pretend you do it for the charity, none of the money gets to the charity after paying you.

You are door to door salespeople who are bothersome and obviously can’t take a hint, even when there is a bright yellow sticker at their eye line.

They then proceed to knock next door, to an old lady who struggles to get to the front door. You guys need arresting for harassment!

John Knox says:
23 July 2012

Most of the big charities involved in these practices don’t actually give very much of their massive surplus from their turnover each year to the good causes they are supposed to be soliciting for.

I usually only give to small charities where I know that they do give a large percentage to good causes and only have small admin fees. The only exception being the small charities involved in caring in which case you do know they will have higher costs.

As far as the chuggers go I just ignore them, well except for the greenpeace ones who I tell everyone of them as I go past that I love nuclear weapons and seal clubbing.

The only charity collectors I am likely to give to is the quiet man or woman standing at the door of the supermarket collecting for the Salvation Army or Help for Heroes etc and not coming right up to you or aggressively approaching you like these chuggers do.

[This comment has been moderated for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Sophie Gilbert says:
24 July 2012

I put door to door chuggers in the same category as Jehovah’s Witnesses and NPower salesmen. Some of them may be very nice and believe in what they do (not NPower salesmen), but I still don’t answer when they chap on my door.

I have three LARGE dogs – when the chugger faces three “smiling” dogs – They leave hurriedly. A number open the garden gate – Read the “Beware of The Dogs” Warning – hear the “welcome” barks and close it quickly.and move on.

Erin says:
24 July 2012

I suffer from agoraphobia and therefore wish these people would appreciate the detrimental affect they can have on people. It’s bad enough that if I feel brave enough to venture into town (Leeds City Centre) I get harassed by these people. I avoid making eye contact and try to stay as far as possible from the ones in town, but most will not take these visual hints and still harass me, and there are few places you can go in Leeds City Centre to avoid these people – which just makes the part of the world I am willing to venture into smaller & smaller. What is far, far worse though, is they come to my own private space to try & guilt trip me. I am unable to work and therefore survive on benefits, but even being told this does not make them back down & leave me in peace.

If I want to give to a charity, I will give to them of my own accord, any charity that harasses me simply ensures I will never give to them again.

Unsolicited visitors of this type are worse than their telephone equivalent, given that it is more effort to answer the door than to answer the phone. Perhaps we need a properly enforced doorstep equivalent of the Telephone Preference Service so that those who do not wish to be disturbed can live in peace. It’s all well and good putting up a sign saying “no cold callers”, but the cold callers simply ignore it (just like the Telephone Preference Service).

Chuggers always seem to knock on the door at the most inconvenient time e.g. children’s bed time. When I open the door they ask how I am and I say I am very very busy. Despite this they still open their long spiel without getting to the point. So I repeat that I am very busy and close the door. They always look shocked. I don’t feel guilty as I already give plenty of money to the charities of my choice.

jackie fletcher says:
25 July 2012

I bought a sticker off of ebay for a couple of pounds, which i have put on the front door. It states that I never buy at the door and I want no cold callers etc.

It seems to have put them off.

Laura says:
27 July 2012

Last time I went to one of my local towns (Romford in Essex) I was shocked at how many of these chuggers there were. I was stopped every few yards, and I mean literally stopped, as they stepped into my path with a cheesy grin plastered across their faces. My usual shaking of head and “no thanks” didn’t have any effect on them at all. The first few I was polite to, but after being harassed 5 or 6 times I got so annoyed that I did start to just push past with a blunt “excuse ME!”
Luckily I don’t have to go there very often, and I haven’t been since!

Dan Woodhouse says:
18 July 2014

please don’t let a load of mindless chuggers put you off coming to dear old Romford town

in fact I haven’t seen that many of them latley

Stephanie says:
8 August 2012

Twice today RSPCA chuggers knocked on my door – the first time I put the chain on and politely told them no. I had come out of hospital yesterday and am pretty unsteady at the moment after having a major operation. The first time was at 3.30pm – the second time was after 7pm and I fell and injured my ankle trying to get to the door thinking it was my community nurse after the furious knocking on my door! I’ve just come back from A&E and am in a furious mood. I’m considering suing RSPCA ! Twice within a space of 4 hours is not ACCEPTABLE!

I found my local trading standards had this on the their website …


Maybe yours does too. I don’t think it would have stopped the second call today but it should stop them in the future. I’m now waiting for Zenith, Sky or Anglian to knock again. Mwhahaha

And if you haven’t already got a no cold caller sign on your door, you can print a free one from http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/no-more-junk#coldcallers

Although having had a daughter in the biz, thankfully only briefly, I would recommend checking you local police force’s website and get one from there instead. My daughter was told to ignore signs unless it was from the local police or it specifically mentioned charities.

Hope that helps.

Like Sarah, I’ve just had a doorstep visit from a charity. Having explained upfront that I already give to charity by direct debit and don’t want to give any more, I was taken aback by the collector’s approach, which was one small step away from the foot-in-the-door hard sell you’d previously expect from energy providers.

The techniques started with explaining the amazing research done on fish that can regenerate their own heart and come back from the dead. All very Doctor Who. All very unconvincing.

The conversation then turned to ‘Do you know the damage done by heart disease and how many people you know who are affected by it’, before moving onto the number of babies born with heart defects. All punctuated by my protestations of ‘I’m not giving you money.’

The next technique was to ask how long I’ve been giving to my chosen charity. When I said ‘years’, his next response was ‘Well, we don’t want you to give for years, just one year’, followed by a question along the lines of ‘Can’t you find something to give up so you can give £2 a week?’

When that didn’t work, he resorted to the old ‘Do you know how many babies die each year from heart disease?’ approach. So we went from Lazarus fish to me effectively condemning a year’s worth of babies to death because I wouldn’t give up a weekly latte. At that point I told him the conversation was over and closed the door on him.

From now on they won’t get a penny out of me, nor will I drop off unwanted clothes at the local shop. I won’t be emotionally blackmailed on my own doorstep, particularly by a charity that should know better.

Sean says:
27 April 2013

Absoloutly disgusted by all of your responses on here, talking about door to door charity fundraisers as though they are agressive pushy salesman that will not leave you alone until they have atleast made the effort to convince you to listen to what they have said, you may be against the idea of people knocking on the door for charity but at the end of the day where most of you are working in a supermarket, warehouse, driving, or in an office, your stable getting between national minimum wage and like £25 an hour a door to door to door fundraiser roams the streets in what ever weather condition, whether it be freezing cold and pouring rain or blistering heat and getting sunburnt having sat in a charity fundraising course myself I know that they learn the art of the charities, what they do and why they do it, 75% of charities raise money for said charities through word of mouth, we all disregard advertisements whereas you have a fundraiser talk to you in the street or your doorstep it gives you the chance to understand why they are at your door, the ones that stand there and carry on and carry on blatantly know that your not interested are just idiots real fundraisers ask if you would like to join the charity.
They sit in a room for two days and learn to care about the cause rather than just script it.
Did any of you know that a real door to door fundraiser does not have a script? They go to your door understanding what the charity is about inside and out, know what brands and companies are making things pollute and disrupt charitable cause, they know everything.
I myself work for the british red cross yes I am a door to door fundraiser, and i know for a fact that atleast 90% of you have a member of the british red cross knock on your doors and I guarantee that they are working on a commission base only position and genuinely need the sale, whether I achieve a direct credit agreement or not I still get paid £7 per hour my job is secured regardless and I have experience working in god knows how many sectors, I go for the door to door fundraising because when I get people that are not as shallow minded as you people I set up a direct debit agreement no bonuses, no commission just a normal job with a sense of achievement knowing that I am helping the needy, so yeah you might get asked by me one day, remember I’m asking you for £2.50 a week that’s £10 per month, I get a thousand of you to do that its £10,000 a month going to a charity, that money goes purely to the charity, by this point the owners of the company get paid to pay us and not a penny of it comes out of the charities, its a set aside amount by the companies, the average charity makes in word of mouth 8.7 billion to send to one charity a year, they set aside a budget of £2.8 million to every single fundraising company in england that 2.8 million has to spread through about 800 companies in the uk we dont get a great deal and part of our job is not to want a great deal so just remember if you want to tell a fundraiser to go away and get a real job just remember we are doing alot to help this world slam the doors in our faces because it means nothing to us, we know we’re not in the wrong yes it seems invasive but we dont know who u are unless you are a positive human being that wants to introduce your selves i dont just work for the british red cross heck my company doesnt just cover british red cross, it covers nspcc, rspca everything really thanks for reading this and I hope you understand why we do what we do.

Emma says:
25 October 2013

Do you know about child poverty and that some of us haven’t got a spare £10 a month? I spent all year growing veg to supplement my food budget whilst raising 4 kids in a working home and we are absolutely stuck. Our car just broke and cost us £400 that I’ll be charged for on my overdraft

Brendan says:
29 October 2014

Emma, sorry to say this but it’s best just to give a simple no. They don’t force you to subscribe. Everyone has similar problems with cars and budget. Just tell them no.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Phill says:
27 April 2013

I’m a door to door fundraiser and I have been for roughly 7 months. I’m paid £7 an hour (no commission) and am a human being. Over the course of my time here, I have on many many many many many occasions, knocked on a door with a sign that says “no cold calling” and the person has said “oh fantastic! Of course I’ll get involved!” On many occasions I have also had people angrily point at their sign which says “we do not buy or sell” at which point I declare that we are not buying or selling and the person closes the door in a fit.
I suppose there are a few points I’m getting to. First: we are human beings, please treat us as such. Often we spend hours in awful weather conditions talking to horrible people just waiting for someone nice who wants to be involved.
Point 2: if you really don’t want us at your door, if you’re really going this far to complain about us, put up a sign that says “no charities” or “no cold calling, including charities” ect. We knock no cold calling signs because people usually put them up against people buying or selling, rather than charities. Just a simple 30 seconds with some paper and some tape or blue tax will let you get on with your lives without us, because trust me when I say, we don’t like unpleasant people, far more than you don’t like us.

“Point 2: if you really don’t want us at your door, if you’re really going this far to complain about us, put up a sign that says “no charities” or “no cold calling, including charities”

I have on numerous occasions asked Trading Standards, Martin Lewis’ money site to produce a single no cold caller sign including the words you have here and also including the police logo. And I’m still waiting. And why does as sign saying no cold callers need a no charities anyway. No cold callers to me means NO COLD CALLERS. It does not mean No cold callers unless you think you have a special reason to knock. Maybe charities should produce a sign themselves to give out free to the public. And every time you see a no cold cold caller sign you can hand one of those stickers over if the person doesn’t want to be bothered

Laura says:
27 April 2013

At risk of sounding a bit of a snob, I don’t want a naff-looking sticker on my front door.

I just want chuggers to understand that when I say “No I’m not interested sorry, I already give to 2 charities and don’t want to give to any others” I mean it, and am not going to change my mind, no matter how charming and friendly they are. The last one was all of 19, and his opening remark was “good evening my dear, and may I say what a lovely smile you have.” Since I was actually scowling rather than smiling, and was old enough to be his granny, I wasn’t impressed.

In all fairness, you do have a valid point about the No Cold Calling stickers. I do have several customers with one of those on their door, but apparently they don’t mean “people like you, dear” so I’m not sure who they are meant to put off. And I have had furious people throw books back at me while pointing to their No Junk Mail sign – I always say politely “well it’s not actually junk mail, but I won’t disturb you in future”.

As for being out in the rain for hours etc etc – well after all that’s your choice. I’m an Avon Lady and am often out in all weathers, but I don’t expect people to order from me just because I’m a bit wet!

I share your thoughts about giving to charities, Laura. I will give to the charities I want to and doorstep collectors go away empty-handed.

I have not had any problem with Avon recently. I used to say that I buy my tyres from a local tyre-fitters. 🙂

shaza says:
13 July 2014

Well Phill I didn’t realise I needed to put a long list of people I don’t want coming to my door uninvited. When I put up a sign that says NO COLD CALLERS – then in my book that means anyone. My house – my rules.

I live in a neighbourhood where we can have a couple people DAILY pestering us and I find it exhausting and intrusive. And no way am I giving out my financial details to a stranger who has turned up at my doorstep asking for a direct debit unsolicited. They would do far better to do like Christian Aid and leave an envelope to be collected at a later date. Less pressure less hassle less intrustion

Dr R.Craven says:
2 November 2017

“I have on many many many many many occasions, knocked on a door with a sign that says “no cold calling””

Well, don’t!!!!

Sean says:
27 April 2013

It’s entirely your choice as to whether you give to the charities that go to the door but as stated we are people we’re not made of stone and we are not salesman, Avon being a self employed basis where you work for your self its your choice as to whether you go out in the rain, we as fundraisers are on a shift pattern if we do not go to work in all weather conditions then we do not get paid so very invalid point made there if I may be honest like I said if you do not want to donate, or are not in the right financial situation or just have other charitable commitments then fair play to you, but as stated charity is more from word of mouth, you have everything explained to you in great detail, you get told a closing statement so you know what you are committing to rather than a flyer that you will discard.
I do my job not only for money but for pleasure, I have a great joy of talking to people at the front door and I am trained to face your rejection and its not nice how we deal with it because we then go away thinking what a bitter person god wouldnt a simple no thank you be ok rather than a dirty look at us and telling us to basically f**k off because you make yourselves out to look bad we’re there to raise for charity not selling things.

Laura says:
28 April 2013

“Avon being a self employed basis where you work for your self its your choice as to whether you go out in the rain, we as fundraisers are on a shift pattern if we do not go to work in all weather conditions then we do not get paid so very invalid point made there”

Not an invalid point at all. If I don’t go out in all weathers I don’t earn anything either. If I’ve told all my customers I’m delivering on Thursday evening, and Thursday evening it’s pouring with rain, I still have to go out! In fact, even when I do go out in all weathers, I don’t necessarily earn anything at all – my orders aren’t guaranteed, unlike your wages.

Sean Jenkins says:
29 April 2013

I respect that don’t get me wrong, being an ex avon representative and kleeneze I know that regardless its a hard job, but like I said its up to you weather you go and risk it, you can afford to say ah sod it its just one day, or maybe not afford to but you have the option to whereas I HAVE to go and put up with the conditions, freezing, hot, cold, or wet I have to go but like I said I need the wages and this is a rewarding job, by all means slam the doors in our faces, we’re trained not to care, but we have very unprofessional views on the people that actually have the heart to do that to another human being.
We get called chuggers, don’t know what that refers to but it sounds very opinionated, but if that’s what we are then that’s what we are it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, slam the door in my face, you wont see me again simple as.
I run the risk of losing my job if I have a bad week though, that one person that slams the door in my face could be the last person, because it might be on Friday in the early evening and I could have been told that if I don’t atleast talk to a customer, then I may lose my job.
I put more at risk to raise for charity than you guys think.
Yeah you can look up on google what my job involves, but you will never truly know what we do.

Chris says:
5 May 2013

I have a constant stream of them knocking on my door in east London. They wear different colored vests that look exactly the same but with different charity names on them, they brandish different leaflets with various heart rendering causes on them. I had a reasonably frank chat with the chap & he informed me it is a single company running multiple charities, they gets lists of addresses to visit & my address/road is on that list. Make no mistake, someone is making a pretty penny. Its not the guy slaving away knocking on peoples doors & certainly not starving children.

I cannot say I blame the bloke for taking & doing his job, I do however think these “charities” aggressive conduct is appalling.

Sudo Nim says:
22 May 2013

Some interesting points brought up here and Sean, you are fighting the corner well!

First I’d like to clear up, as a door-to-door fundraiser you ARE cold-calling and as such, should respect and adhere to No-Cold-Calling stickers on doors. ‘We Do Not Buy or Sell at This Door’ stickers are OK because obviously you are doing neither.

Often-times the neighbourhood NCC signs are up for a reason (for example Sheltered Housing and/or vulnerable peoples).

You are totally on the money when you speak about being treated as a human being. When you see people treating D2D fundraisers like dirt because they can’t take a few seconds out of their day to understand why someone is bothering to make the effort to come to their door in the first place, you feel a bit depressed by humanity. But I would argue that it’s more than made up for by all the amazing people that are willing to have a chat and maybe even support the cause itself as well. Win/win.

I don’t understand why so many people think it’s OK to make millions off of selling violent video games or whatever, but to make an honest living out of doing good for other people is frowned on???

If you have ever had a bad experience with a D2D fundraiser speak to them about it? In general if it’s a company then they will have a line manager and disciplinary procedures etc. If it’s something quite serious (guilt trip/emotional blackmail) then get in touch with the charities directly. All big charities will adhere to the FRSB (fundraising standards board) which basically goes on about ethics, and if someone isn’t doing it right does that really mean the charity is at fault? Maybe it’s the individual fundraiser?

And as for the poster talking about the big bucks managers and all that. I genuinely have no idea where some people pull this rubbish – certainly no factual evidence is ever presented to back it up. I work for the largest D2D fundraising company in the UK, have done for a long time and have met the guys who started it over ten years ago.

They pull a wage. They don’t take stupid amounts of money. Most of the ‘profits’ go right back into the staffs bonuses, encouraging a culture of wanting to do well, and also inspiring people to get genuinely interested in the charities they campaign for as it will improve their job satisfaction and their ‘scores’.

I have kind of rambled on here but my point is that in general most people I speak to in the general public are fantastic and if you go out with a good attitude it can be reflected. I could go and knock on some random’s door and have a wee chat with them for a couple of minutes and then leave the door, BOTH of us feeling better for the experience, just putting a smile on each others face you know?

But it pays the bills and raises lots of money for good causes. If you have a good work ethic and attitude and really do care about some of the bigger things in life I would highly recommend this type of job.

Thanks for reading.