A chugger’s worst nightmare

…and I’m not talking about people who blank them or people who shout at them. (Chuggers – ‘charity muggers’ who try to accost you in the street seeking donations via direct debit – might be annoying, but don’t deserve rudeness or violence).

I take a different tack. Hey, I’m an ex-civi servant who’s been institutionalised!

“Oh hai Poofflez, Like to donayte to chariddee?!?!” Or something along those lines. When not in a rush and if the person stopping me looks like the kind of person you could have a reasonable conversation with, I ask them for their spiel – or ‘lines to take.’ After giving them the opportunity to say ‘I’m a chugger, don’t really know much about the charity but I need the money’ (which we all do in these tough economic times) I then start with the interrogation from hell. Well…I don’t actually – I’ve only ever done this once, and it goes a little something like this.

“How much did your charity spend last year?”

“What are your charity’s current cash reserves? (i.e. are you hoarding cash or are you spending it?)”

“Give me some examples – case studies if you like – of projects where your charity has made a real difference”

“Give me a ballpark figure of what your charity spent on administration last year, and what percentage of donations did this make up?”

“What are the salaries of your charity’s top executives?”

I can be a real beast if I want to!

The problems with charities are not just with chuggers – whose activities can tarnish the name of the charities that they are fundraising for. There is a wider issue of how ‘charity’ and ‘charities’ are seen in society.

Campaigning vs Service Delivery

This is an issue that Andy Bower (a local (to me) Conservative activist regularly raises with Puffles. Do the campaigning activities of charities compromise their political neutrality – especially those that generate funds through the delivery of public sector contracts? It’s a reasonable question. Before anyone kicks off on this, please see the Charity Commission’s guidance first. (It regulates charities).

But the answer is a little bit more complicated. In times gone by – thinking in particular of the post-1945 settlement, public services were predominantly paid for and delivered by the state. To get a feel for how public services were built up from a historical perspective, I strongly recommend Tristram Hunt’s book Building Jerusalem which he wrote before being elected a Labour MP in Stoke.

Now, with the state delivering and funding public services and with charities raising money, campaigning and/or delivering things separate to the state, the lines between the two institutions was pretty clear cut.

The thing is, charities can be better at delivering some services than the state. My experience with Centre 33 in helping me deal with mental health issues was far better than with my local NHS provider. You may well have your own examples too. With this in mind, it’s understandable that politicians started to look at ‘non-state’ providers to deliver public services – in particular where those charities already had a developed infrastructure on the ground and were highly regarded in the communities that they operated in. Hence the development of the “commissioning model” which is weaved into “New Public Management” thinking. My own reading into this made me question where all the empirical and academic studies were that demonstrated that this model was any more efficient than delivering stuff in house (e.g. do they take into account costs of outsourcing and contract management, as well as the ‘soft services’ that inhouse teams provide through goodwill rather than saying “it’s not in the contract, ask someone else.”?)

Financial dependence

Once there is a financial link between the state and a not-for-profit organisation, things can become complicated for the latter in particular. This is especially the case with the huge cuts that are being made to public service budgets. Charities in their campaigning roles are inevitably speaking out because of the social impacts of the cuts, while their delivery arms have to cope with reduced budgets or contracts that are not renewed – inevitably having a knock-on effect on their additional activities – which increases the pressure to speak out.

Getting into messy politics

You’ve seen the political speeches and the parliamentary exchanges.

“You don’t have to take our word for it – all of these organisations have said that they agree with us!”

It’s a bit like saying “We know that the public think we’re lying toe-rags, but those institutions over there have good reputations and they are saying they agree with us so we must be right!” (Hat-tip to Colin Hay and his book “Why we hate politics” for the tip off on that one). Understandably tribal political types start getting angry if a registered charity starts getting a little too close to the sides that are not theirs – hence why charities must be very careful when speaking at one political party conference and not another during conference season.

When is a charity not a charity?

Being a charity brings with it a whole host of rights and responsibilities. One of the things that has caused problems for local businesses – second hand bookshops in particular - is the rate relief charity shops get on their activities. Cambridge has lost a number of independent bookshops, including Browns which was a goldmine of knowledge. I don’t know to what extent the Amnesty International Bookshop took away its trade, or to what extent Amazon had on its closure but it’s understandable that small businesses feel particularly aggrieved when faced with a charity shop in the same area effectively being given an advantage.

There’s also the issue of institutions that predominantly serve the affluent and the rich – thinking the top public schools. This came to a head in the latter years of the Labour administration when through the Charity Commission and its then head Dame Suzi Leather tried to tighten up the rules to force such institutions to demonstrate far more of a benefit to those less well off than they had otherwise been providing. (See also the BBC’s take at the time).

Executive pay and remuneration

In the era of coverage on high pay and the pay of executives, just how much are chief executives of charities worth? There are a number of chief executives on six figure salaries. Do these salaries undermine the reputations of these charities in the minds of the general public? Should charitable donations be ‘ringfenced’ with administrative costs coming in from service delivery contracts or income from investments? I feel uneasy at making charitable donations knowing that some of it might go on the chief executive’s courtesy car. Hence why most of my charitable donations are in kind.

Celebrity endorsement

This is always going to be a controversial issue. The well-known public figures I tend to have more respect for are those who develop long term and consistent relationships with a small number of charities – the former cricketer Sir Ian Botham being a good example with Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. Problems arise when celebrities ‘misbehave’ and/or do something that tarnishes the reputation of the charities they publicly support. In my mind, the whole ‘celebrity culture’ of recent times has brought the term ‘charidee’ into the public lexicon – which I think is a reflection of the ‘cheapening’ of the hard-won reputations earned by those who do the ground work but don’t get the publicity or acknowledgement for what they do. There is also the ‘transparency’ issue which I first clocked on the back of Live8 – Live Aid 20 years on. A number of performers had significant increases in record sales on the back of those performances. Was that concert a simple case of free marketing? (Or am I a cynic?)

Tax avoidance and tax evasion

This is a tricky issue not least because it is so politicised – to the extent every time Puffles tweets about it a number of people come after Puffles. Just so we are CRYSTAL CLEAR, tax avoidance is legal, and tax evasion is a criminal offence. Tax AVOIDANCE is defined by The Treasury (in a document signed off by a Conservative minister – so any Conservatives who have an issue with this, take it up with your minister, not me) as:

…[involving] using the tax law to get a tax advantage that Parliament never intended(First paragraph of the executive summary on Page 5)

Remember too that this document was written at a time when the Conservatives were – and still are the biggest party in Parliament. Labour too are not off the hook – things got this bad on tax avoidance under your watch.

There. Political rant over.

Now, what are the two issues?

One issue is the use wealthy people make of the tax system to reduce their tax bills through exploiting charitable tax relief. Another issue is people trying to excuse tax avoidance because an individual gives a lot of money to charity. We tried Victorian style philanthropy in the Victorian era. It did not work – hence the (imperfect) welfare state – which will be the subject of a future blogpost in itself. Charitable giving is what people choose to give irrespective of their tax obligations, not instead of. People who excuse tax avoidance because of charitable giving in my mind undermine the very charities – and the acts of charitable and philanthropical giving. This for me is not in the public interest.

To conclude…

On the whole, I think charities are a good thing. That said, there are a number of areas that policy makers – and charities themselves – need to consider in order to ensure charities and charitable giving is not undermined in the eyes of the public.

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19 Responses to A chugger’s worst nightmare

  1. Trust me, that’s not a charity hugger’s worst nightmare ;)
    you dropped a line about “activities [which] can tarnish the name of the charities that they are fundraising for”, mind telling me more about this?

  2. Very helpful set of questions – thank you.

  3. I once tried that on a chugger for one of the human rights charities, and could tell them more about what they did than they could tell me…

    As to whether taking government contracts compromises neutrality, I firmly believe such activities should be conducted through trading subsidiaries, which would reduce the extent to which they could – the charity itself does the campaigning, consulting, and so forth, and the trading subsidiary does the stuff they get paid for.

    As law stands now, being a school doesn’t automatically qualify them as a charity, they still (in theory) have to meet the “public benefit test” – other groups affected by that change include religious charities (furtherance of religion no longer an automatic in). If a school actually makes profit for shareholders, then it absolutely should not be a charity (I’m not sure whether it can in law), but it could have an associated charitable trust. Charity law is quite confuddling, but does ultimately make sense. Mostly.

  4. Oh, on the tax thing – what does it count as when they get let off an established tax liability by making a settlement with HMCR (over dinner)?

  5. Andrew Bower says:

    Thanks for the article. It doesn’t quite capture my frustration with campaigning charities. Although there are dangers of vested interests, I don’t actually have a problem with political partiality (if it’s based around issues) or campaigning.

    It is just annoying that many of the major aid charities seem to be doing a lot of campaigning, mostly on cuts-related themes, and this to me is very offputting as a potential donor. It’s a problem because some of these charities are doing things that some of us on the right firmly believe in, particularly from the Big Society perspective. But I worry a little whether (a) that work is limited because of the campaign spending and (b) the things for which they are campaigning will make things worse, and am then loathed to donate. I’m not calling for any changes to policy, I just wonder if charities know or care about this issue. Maybe it doesn’t make much difference. Personally it just means I have to work harder to find charities where this feat doesn’t applym, generally meaning not the big ones.

    A few weeks ago I went to Greenbelt, the socialist festival with a religious flavour. It was certainly a new experience for me. I was really frustrated with the charity bods going on about Big Society being a “cover for cuts”. I wondered if they were determined to make it not work. And the Christian Aid literature had such a utopian mission statement about abolishing all poverty, which they said was achievable, I wondered if they would make the perfect the enemy of the good.

  6. Andrew Bower says:

    Oh, and I hate the term ‘service delivery’ in the context of charities. It has the feel of an implementation agency of the government rather than something good being done because people want it done and are prepared to fund it.

  7. Alex Cobham says:

    Andrew, that’s a rather extravagant characterisation of Greenbelt – an inclusive and progressive Christian festival, with sponsors including Christian Aid, the Methodist church, The Church Times, The Children’s Society and others.

    As for our (Christian Aid’s) drive for Poverty Over, I don’t think I follow your concern. We do believe that an end to poverty is possible – that structural change can deliver genuine development, and that we are mandated to strive for more than ‘relief’ of the symptoms of poverty. This focuses our striving for change, rather than limiting us to utopian dreaming.

    Our campaigning – which accounts for a tiny proportion of our expenditure, compared to the more than 40 countries where we work – reflects our belief that poverty is fundamentally political. Without changing the structures and systems that cause poverty, we cannot hope for its eradication. An agenda of ‘value for money’ for our supporters, especially important at a time of austerity, demands that we tackle the causes and not only the symptoms. Our supporters come from all walks of life and across the political spectrum; I hope this approach does not alienate you, or anyone else.

  8. TRIGGAGE says:

    Good blog that addresses several points ADBF. I’ll just add some of my own acquired knowledge from a charity i worked at for around 4 years. I don’t want to name them as they truly do great work and compared to private sector companies the Chief Executive there earned his money through talent and amazing dedication.

    However, apart from the various “service delivery” projects that they ran, they would also look for all sorts of ways for getting in every penny possible. I should add before i go any further, the service delivery parts of the compa….sorry, charity, were reported separately in the main annual accounts.

    As i was saying, they would have volunteers (on average 600 at any one time) doing all sorts of great, virtuous acts of altruistic endeavors. Maybe retired folk running the shops, people standing in the rain rattling tins, selling raffle tickets, you get the idea. With the exception of a few of the more profitable shops, the money raised was inconsequential in the scheme of things. What those volunteers did do was raise profile, project an image of desperation when it came to new funds. In particularly money bequeathed, every now and again a cheque would appear at my desk, £150k perhaps, equivalent to maybe 20 years worth of profit from the tin collections.

    The relevance of this is that the public, who are so kind, would be unaware of the millions held untouched in reserve. Millions, that while invested in low risk institutions, are at least partially immediately accessible without penalty. Yet whenever an unforeseen incident left a service in trouble, such as damaged transport, an appeal for donations goes out to the community to raise the £10000 urgently needed.

    The public would be shocked at the money spent on the salaries of the CE, board of directors and admin. The public would also be rightly disgusted at some of the waste, staff members spending £100 a month on work phones when it’s mostly personal calls, train journeys not bought in advance so its £100 return to London as opposed to £30. Would the public by the Xmas raffle tickets if they knew there were million held in the bank?

    A great charity, i’d be proud to work somewhere like that again but the third sector isn’t always as perceived by joe public.

    • Andrew Bower says:

      Triggage, some good points you’ve raised there but I’m not put off by the reserves themselves. Even though they may not be yielding much at the moment I like the idea that donations don’t just go on current spending but, at least in part, form part of an endowment able to make a lasting contribution to the charity’s work.

  9. Frances Coppola says:

    Alex, as a Christian myself and a supporter of Christian Aid’s work, I have to say I find the political agenda that Christian Aid pursues uncomfortable. I accept the aim of eradicating poverty but not necessarily the means you promote. I would prefer it if you kept your aid work and political campaigning separate so that I can choose which one to support.

  10. Alex Cobham says:

    Frances, thank you for your support. I think your reaction is not uncommon, and one that we as an organisation (and also as a sector) should do more to respond to.

    There is a tendency – and I am certainly guilty of this in my comment above – to draw a clear distinction between public campaigning in rich countries like the UK, and development efforts in poorer countries, with the implication that the former is political and the latter not. In reality, things are much less clear.

    In an important sense, all development efforts are political. As we argue in ‘Justice to Poverty’, poverty cannot be defined simply as a lack of income. A hypothetical redistribution to ensure every person on the planet received a dollar a day, for example, would not address many of the fundamental deficits that prevent too many people from being able to flourish, to live a full life. This short report on Christian Aid’s definition of poverty can be read here: http://bit.ly/jus2pov

    If we accept that poverty is broader than income in this way, it follows that a great part of the issue relates to unequal access to power – in particular, over the decisions that affect people’s lives in important ways. This means, among other things, that inequality is important (so that addressing absolute income poverty only is insufficient); and that poverty is, by its nature, political. With this comes the implication that a successful response to poverty must also, ultimately, be political.

    Consider, for example, a community which has been overlooked for investment in education. An immediate response for a development NGO – and a typical one in the not-so-distant past – would be to seek and to provide the funds to build a school. Unfortunately, however, this leaves intact the underlying causes of the problem – that for whatever reason, relevant policymakers are unwilling or unable to provide this particular community with the necessary support. In all too many cases then, a school built with external funds will not be furnished with textbooks, teacher salaries, school meals or other elements necessary to convert the investment into real change.

    An alternative approach is to work with the community to address the reasons for their exclusion – perhaps because they are from a less favoured ethnic group or caste, or perhaps because of corruption diverting funds, or because government revenues in total are insufficient to the demands… By working with the community to understand and address the causes of the particular aspect of poverty, the eventual solution is much more likely to yield sustainable, long-term benefits. At the same time, we would argue that empowering people to be the actors in their own emergence from poverty is in and of itself an element of progress.

    Rather than focusing on delivering services ourselves (whether that’s e.g. healthcare or education, or emergency relief), Christian Aid has always emphasised supporting local partner organisations. In this way, we believe – and there is evidence to support – that we can do more to help people take control of decisions and lift themselves out of poverty. An independent evaluation of our work responding to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami highlights the importance of working with local partners:

    “All of the country research confirms that Christian Aid’s distinctive strength is
    its ability to build and maintain strong relationships with a wide variety of
    partners. While this is also at the heart of the organisation’s philosophy, it is
    unusual to get such a consistency of supportive findings across three very
    different countries. Indonesia research found that Christian Aid’s strength lay
    in its ability to empower partners to use tried and tested local techniques.
    Outcomes achieved then reflect the sociological and economic conditions of
    local communities… The benefit of this partnership model is the likelihood of
    sustainability of interventions in Indonesia. Sri Lanka found that ‘While most
    other INGOs have left these affected communities either at the end of relief or
    the rehabilitation phase, Christian Aid has stood by its partners’”

    http://www.christianaid.org.uk/aboutus/who/key_publications/tsunami-evaluation.aspx
    [Of course the report also highlights area where we can improve; I'm emphasising this particular point.]

    Ultimately, when we work best there is a continuum between our country work and our global campaigning. Our experience and that of our partners informs our analysis, learning can be effectively shared from one context to another, and recognition of the global obstacles and opportunities can help more effective responses at national and local level.

    In this way then, there is a political element to all development work. Although it can sometimes be uncomfortable, we believe that it is our duty to seek the greatest change – and this means pursuing longer-term political change to eradicate poverty, not only short-term poverty relief.

  11. Very useful and interesting.

    Charities with high staff wages bother me. I once looked at the accounts of a small charity that was looking for funding. Of 100k of donations, 45k was on the CEOs salary, with 10k actually going to the people who the charity was set up for. Criminal waste of money in my opinion.

  12. @Chrissington says:

    “That said, there are a number of areas that policy makers – and charities themselves – need to consider in order to ensure charities and charitable giving is not undermined in the eyes of the public.”

    I’ve worked in the charity sector one way or another for nearly 15 years, both in a professional services firm specialising in advising charities, for a fundraising charity, for a charity that charges for the work it carries out, and have been a trustee of a charity involved in contracting with a local authority. The questions you raise are all valid, but over the course of maybe the last 25 years in particular, have been debated long and hard, without clear conclusions being reached – because those number of areas that you question are grey areas without black or white answers. That said, the general standard of charity governance over that period has, in my view, improved vastly.

    I would like to offer a counterpoint to some of the questions you raise.

    It’s a shame that the term ‘chuggers’ has stuck. It’s not very friendly is it? Sadly, I think even charities now acknowledge they’ve lost the battle to call them ‘street fundraisers’. They do operate under a code of conduct (http://www.charityfacts.org/fundraising/fundraising_factsheets/street_fundraising/street_1.html#2) so if you come across a fundraiser you think oversteps a line, there is a clear route of complaint.

    Additionally, think about the context of the grilling you gave a fundraiser. Some charities will always rely on donations, so they need to ‘make the ask’. If you receive a donations request via any other medium, do you ask the same questions? Good for you if you do, charities should be able to give you the answers, but if not, then why not? If, say, a shop says they will donate 5p of every purchase to charity x, do you ask the member of staff on the till the same questions about the charity? I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask effectively the most junior members of staff in an organisation questions that are better asked of management, though it would be useful for a fundraiser to carry a small sheet of FAQs that cover that kind of thing. Many fundraisers will be interested in the cause, rather than the backroom operations of the charity, and for donors it is often enough to be satisfied that they are giving towards a cause they support.

    That takes me to the question of salaries and admin costs. Certainly, donors should be able to expect their donation to be spent primarily on the charitable activities of the charity they are giving to.

    I wonder why you think that staff working for charities shouldn’t be remunerated according to the work they do? I mentioned earlier that I have seen charity governance improve significantly over my time working in the sector. This has come alongside major efforts by the Charity Commission to improve the quality of charity’s financial reporting – and increasing salaries. It’s not a coincidence that atteracting the brightest people has improved the way that charities in general are run. Here is an article I would recommend (http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/opinion/content/8438/equity_rules_why_high_charity_salaries_equal_success). Paying decent salaries helps to ensure that charities carry out their charitable activities and support their beneficiaries as efficiently as possible.

    Next, admin costs. What is an admin cost? How clearly does the expenditure of each £ have to be tied to a charitable activity? In general, every single £ will be. For example, you might not see rent paid on an office to be a charitable activity. But could the charity function without that office? The charity SORP no longer has such a thing as ‘admin’ costs, so I doubt many charities would be able to give you a clear figure. There are ‘governance’ and ‘support’ costs, but ‘support’ costs will be allocated in the charity’s accounts to the activity which they support.
    It’s not unreasonable to look at costs of fundraising compared to how much money is raised from fundraising activities, but again, comparisons aren’t always easy. Some charitable causes will always find it much easier to raise money than others. Charity shops are a famously ‘inefficient’ way of rasiing funds, but is it any less valid to raise money in this way from donations of second hand gear that might otherwise have been chucked out? It might perhaps be useful to ask charities to describe clearly on their websites / accounts / literature what they spend money on, but how they do this always depends on individual circumstances, and comparisons are difficult.

    Finally, campaigning vs service delivery. I don’t think that ‘service delivery’ comprises a charity’s political neutrality. Do you think, for example, that a refuse company contracting with a council is politically compromised? Such activities are regulated by arm’s length contracts. As you have noted, charity’s aren’t allowed to have political allegiances, and clearly you have seen the guidance – it’s equally clear that there is a process to tackle any actual or perceived political bias. Personally, I would say think tanks are more of a risk in this context, as are some of the campaigns ongoing at the moment. For example, the Robin Hood Tax campaign is explicitly a campaign to change the way that taxes are raised. That is not a charitable purpose. The fact that the money ‘could’ be spend on charitable causes is neither here nor there. If the charities involved were saying that more tax should be raised and definitely spent on their causes, fine. Tax policy is not an issue that charities should be touching, and I’m surprised that those involved have so far got away with spending money in that field, particularly given that they are working with explicitly politically aligned organisations (ie, trade unions).

    None of the issues you raise are easily dealt with in a ‘yes, this is ok’ or ‘no, this is not ok’ way, and communication of them to the public is not always easy either. The best thing that could be done at the moment would be to ensure that the Commission is properly funded to do it’s job as a regulator.

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  14. Richard says:

    The problem with chuggers is twofold:

    1. Many of them seem to think that being rude or aggressive will intimidate people into donating to them. It won’t. I’ve had verbal abuse shouted at me by several chuggers. I blank or avoid them rather than say “no thanks” because I know if I spoke to them they’d hurl abuse at me.

    2. You need to have a chugger’s name to complain – would anyone intimidated by them feel comfortable enough to get this.

    Should add I volunteer for an excellent charity and I donate stock and cash on a regular basis – just not through chuggers.

  15. Yonmei says:

    I tell chuggers – very politely – that while I’m generally supportive of that charity, I don’t give my bank details to someone working on the street, and then I move on.

    I kind of hope that if enough people respond like this, it’ll put an end to this practice of trying to guilt people into setting up standing orders on the spot.

    Chuggers are really no more to blame for what they’re doing than someone in a call centre – they’re low-level employees (probably not even employed by the charity that’s using them). You might more effectively call the charity they’re collecting for to complain.

    Blaming charity shops rather than the big chain bookshops – and Amazon – for the demise of the small independent bookshop, seems to be another way of attacking the weakest target. If you want to support independent bookshops, buy from Abebooks.

  16. The article is good from an outsider’s perspective of charities and giving. But a lot of the issues are skirted over.

    As a Fundraising Manager, I don’t use face-to-face fundraising techniques, in the main because the direct debit sign ups stop too quickly to make it a viable investment. However, a lot of charities do, and it is those in the Big Five that use it the most.

    On your questions, it should be noted that a chugger’s target is 24 a day (an intern of mine just got fired for not hitting it) and they are usually employed on a self-employed (therefore outside of the minimum wage) basis. I stick with “No Thank you” and let them try and keep earning money. Panorama did a show on it, I wont say it was good, but it highlighted the extremes.

    Charities have to, by law, keep reserves of enough to pay redundancy for all staff in the event they close down. So all charities will have a reserve account.

    A lot of the big charities, receive so many donations that they make grants to other charities, there is a whole other industry created by this generosity! However, they *still* fundraise, which to me seems to negate the point. If a charity is large enough to make donations, then it surely has the funds to lobby to acheive it’s campaigning aims?!

    The blurred line between charities and public sectors is growing. Many charities, mine included, deliver state initiatives. If they do so, then the monies raised from street fundraising usually go towards another area the government won’t commission but which the charity think is worthwhile, for example family based intervention work for addicts or mental health social groups for people with mental health problems. This can be seen as “free money” to the charity, to design and develop and scope new ways to acheive their ultimate objectives.

    Yes people use charities to avoid tax, if you sit near a bracket, of course you will gain from giving £50 per month. But the majority do not even realise this is one of the advantages of giving, and do it because of their attraction to the cause or the message provided. Proof in kind is the studies recently showing that percentage of income giving is higher in those who earn less. What we call in the trade a donor-value. The higher the percentage of the donor’s earnings in donation, the higher value the donor, irrespective of whether it is £100 or £2.

    Companies and corporations that work with Charities often have large tax avoidance records, Vodaphone’s Text Message Giving Scheme, for example. This is likely to grow as the mainstream awareness grows. One could argue that the corporations that support charities should just pay their taxes and then the need for charities to deliver services would be reduced. But that’s simplistic argument where as, as I have said, the relation between charities and services is complex.

    There you go, I’ve added my tuppence worth!

  17. Yonmei says:

    Richard: “You need to have a chugger’s name to complain”

    No, you don’t. You only need the charity’s name to complain. You complain to the charity that one of their chuggers was abusive, giving them date/time and location (and any other identifying details). If you don’t get a satisfactory response back from the charity, you can go to the charity commission.

    But, in the case you describe; “Many of them seem to think that being rude or aggressive will intimidate people into donating to them. It won’t. I’ve had verbal abuse shouted at me by several chuggers. I blank or avoid them rather than say “no thanks” because I know if I spoke to them they’d hurl abuse at me.”

    Call the police. Not 999 of course, just your local police station. You have an absolute right not to get baracked or harassed on the street, and the charity has had to get permission from the police to carry out collections in a public place: the police will take complaints of this nature very seriously, and the company that employs them will get into hot water.

    Political Parry: “On your questions, it should be noted that a chugger’s target is 24 a day (an intern of mine just got fired for not hitting it) and they are usually employed on a self-employed (therefore outside of the minimum wage) basis. I stick with “No Thank you” and let them try and keep earning money. ”

    Exactly. It’s really an appalling kind of bullying, what Puffles’ Bestest Buddy describes – people who have got to sign up 3 people every hour for 8 hours or lose their jobs, being harassed with questions they can’t answer by someone who is basically just trying to get them sacked.

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