Fines will soon be issued to pushy charity collectors who follow you or get in your way. But will this encourage them to be less pushy? And why aren’t they armed with information about the charities they’re fundraising for?
The charity sector gets around £5 billion in donations each year – proving that even in turbulent economic times such as these, Brits are willing to put their hands in their pockets to support a good cause. But how clear is it made to us where your money does?
There’s a lot to be said about charities, and not all of it’s good. This is probably why the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, which regulates the ‘third sector’, has announced new rules that will come into force to ensure the public don’t get hassled by ‘chuggers’ – that’s charity canvassers, or charity muggers – take your pick.
If they follow you down the road, stand too close to an ATM or get in your way, they could be charged as much as £500 in England or £1,000 in Scotland. Sounds like a plan, but will it work?
Should ‘chugging’ be banned?
I think there’s a strong argument for banning chugging outright, unless they clean up their act. They are way too in-your-face. I hate it when they bound up to me, block my path and try to make me feel bad about not immediately handing over my account details and signing away a tenner a month for the rest of time.
And it’s not just me who has a problem with chuggers. When we last broached this subject in a Which? Conversation several people aired their views. Ben told us:
‘If I’m not confronted by at least two chuggers then it’s an exceptional evening. I no longer feel guilty when I reply ‘No’ to the question: ‘Do you want to save a starving child?’ but others are less desensitised and may end up pledging money that they can’t really afford to give up, which accounts to being bullied in my book.’
‘To me they are just the same as any cold caller trying to sell me double glazing or Sky TV. They invade my privacy and won’t get a penny out of me.’
David called it ‘face-to-face phishing’. Some commenters argued that chuggers fill a gap in the market, but they were fairly isolated.
Charities should be transparent
Aside from the hassle, there’s another problem with chuggers. I object to the lack of anything in writing about their charity that they can give me. If I’m going to be giving away £120 a year I think I’m entitled to see where the money goes. It seems they’re geared towards grabbing your card details, not explaining in detail where your cash goes.
Incidentally, have you noticed how the sums involved are invariably just shy of £10? I reckon this is because I’m unlikely to spot this cash going out of my account.
If charities want to continue to get support from an overstretched public, they should be totally transparent about where they spend our money. If, as I suspect, most of it goes to a great cause, then they should be shouting this from the rooftops. And this comes back to my main point, news about individual projects aside, why don’t they?