Is there a town, city or even village where street fundraisers are not in evidence? The other day I’d walked less than a couple of hundred yards and been accosted four times. I say accosted because that’s what it feels like. They step in front of unwary passersby with a “Hi guys,” a big smile and arm, with clipboard, outstretched. Now I’m not averse to giving to charities as and when I am able or want to, not when I’m browbeaten or guilt tripped into a donation. I object strongly to being stopped in the street as I’m going about my business and rather than making me want to give, it has completely the opposite effect.
I’ve read several articles about how these ‘chuggers’ are trained, if that’s the applicable term, and how they qualify for commissions and bonuses depending on how many people they sign up, using less than honourable tactics. It makes shocking reading. They are told to be persistent and not take no for an answer. One of their aims is to pursue people in order to talk them into donating via direct debit, or by initially asking for a text donation so their phone numbers are accessible to the relevant companies, and probably more besides. The street fundraisers don’t necessarily work for the charity they’re promoting but for umbrella companies who make mega bucks out of the deal.
I once made the mistake of texting a donation and was inundated with calls which I blocked each time but am still receiving unsolicited calls from different numbers and from all parts of the country. Needless to say, I won’t be doing that again.
And, worst of all, you’re not safe in your own home from the door to door cold callers. Just the other week a group were in my area collecting for the Air Ambulance, which is actually a charity I support, but when I declined to sign up for a monthly direct debit the ‘gentleman’ wasn’t prepared to accept my answer and began to appear quite angry. This was one of the many times I miss a German Shepherd at my side, instead of (or perhaps as well as, because I do love him) a loopy Lurcher who is friends with everyone!
But, after yet another negative article in the paper today about charities and their aggressive tactics, I think it’s past time for the situation to be addressed. I’m not against charities and I’m not grouping them all together. The individual collectors who wait for people to approach them aren’t a problem. I can only speak as I find and granted, charities can do enormous good, but their methods, in the main it seems, leave something to be desired and need a drastic reassessment if they don’t want to alienate a vast swathe of the public.