/ Money

Do you think councils should ban chuggers?

Charity worker on high street

Chuggers, charity canvassers to put it differently, are under fire again. A London council is seeking to ban them outright. But are chuggers really committing ‘legal robbery’ as one Islington councillor claims?

Back in December, Which? Money investigated the charity sector. You could say we were critical of some forms of giving, with especial ire reserved for charity canvassers. Since then I’ve received numerous correspondence from readers who’ve criticised the article for being ‘anti-charity’.

That’s not right. Which? criticises the banks all the time, that doesn’t mean we don’t like money. The point is that if there is a lousy operation out there, we want to highlight it for consumers and hopefully encourage it to change its ways.

Islington council plans to ban chuggers

When it comes to chuggers, the issue is more complicated than bank bashing. Charities do a marvellous job, raising billions for all manner of good causes. It’s just that some of the processes employed leave a lot to be desired.

This explains why councils around the country have been using byelaws to ban chuggers, with the latest being Islington in north London. Islington Councillor Paul Convery has said:

‘There are too many, they hassle people and they are in your face. It seems to be legal robbery in some ways and it gives charities a bad name. The time has come to tackle this nuisance.’

Does he have a point? Should councils have a right to prevent charity workers from approaching people in public places?

For and against chuggers

The pro-chug camp will argue that if they didn’t door-step shoppers on the streets, good causes would lose out to the tune of millions of pounds. Without chuggers, they argue, thousands of people who might be willing to give to charity won’t, because it’s not at the forefront of their mind.

The anti-chug brigade resents what they see as an infringement of their rights to go about their business unheeded. They bristle at having to dodge eager canvassers who bound up to you, and lay a guilt trip on anyone who isn’t willing to sign away a regular donation on the spot.

The arguments are strong on both sides. I could sit on the fence and point out that chuggers have to follow a set of rules that stops them from hassling people. Indeed, a polite ‘no’ should be enough to ward approaching chuggers off. But if I did that you’d probably stop reading.

The truth is that I can’t walk down a busy high street without running the gauntlet of chuggers. It’s tiresome at best, and a little intimidating at worst.

Should charities mystery shop chuggers?

Giving to charity should be a choice, not an obligation. Charity workers should respect people’s right to walk on by, not stop and give them a hearing. There may be rules in place governing how charity workers should conduct themselves, but they’re clearly not working.

I reckon that the charities should do more, get out on the streets and see how their employees conduct themselves, before more councils take action and chugging is banned across the country. If they reign in their enthusiastic workers, they may find more people are willing to give them a chance.

Do you think councils should ban chuggers?

Yes - chuggers are a nuisance (54%, 234 Votes)

No - chuggers are essential to raise money (32%, 140 Votes)

If the rules are tightened, chuggers can stay (14%, 63 Votes)

Total Voters: 437

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On a lunch break the other week a certain Charity had their staff out trying to raise funds. Now, being in London, I’m well used to the rigmarole of dodging the 10 or so I’d encounter on my way to buy my pasty but this Charity in question had crossed the line.

They had their staff out on the streets, stopping people to guilt them into donating. One phrase I heard was “Lovely hair madam, where did you get it done? Unfortunately some don’t have the same luxury of hair care as you” and to the man eating his lunch: “Is that tasty Sir?”…you can guess where that conversation went.

I completely understand the need to fund-raise but I honestly believe this is the completely wrong way to do it. Fair enough in telling people about your charity and the good that you’re doing, but don’t make them feel guilty (or in my case, outraged) as a result.


I thought that this type of activity is now illegal!


That’s what I thought David but it’s hard to keep track of.

Someone told me not so long ago that it’s also illegal for those with charity pots to ‘shake them’ as it’s intimidating – that doesn’t seem to stop the guy who stands outside my local supermarket!

Mikhail says:
11 January 2012

Are you sure that it was a charity? …More likely they were fundraisers …those are completely out of control.


Unfortunately it was a charity indeed, for children.

Sophie Gilbert says:
11 January 2012

I’ve had it with chuggers and running the gauntlet of Princes Street (Embra) on a Saturday afternoon. I never go there at that time anymore. Or should I wear a special tee-shirt saying, “Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity, when I give I give myself” (Walt Whitman).

What is especially insulting about what tpoots describes is the assumption that you don’t already give.


Agreed – the assumption that if you don’t give specifically to that charity at that time really irks me. Different people have different ways of giving: my Mum is a big fan of sponsoring people, so will generally save up charity money so that when one of her friends runs a marathon or grows a moustache she can be generous in her sponsorship. I prefer to choose one or two organisations that I have a real belief in, and follow their work closely – not just giving money but joining their campaigns, etc.

I think choosing how you give to charity is a really important and personal thing, and not the sort of decision that I want to take when I’m rushing through a shopping centre.

Anon the mouse says:
11 January 2012

But what are the rule on the clipboard canvessers? And they work on commission so follow you down the street too.


Recently while walking down Cheapside in the City, I was on a mobile phone call; a chugger approached me and had the nerve to try to interrupt my phone call in order to extract money from me. These people have no manners and I welcome any attempt to ban them.