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Charity Muggers

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Wednesday 12 July 2006 2.33pm
Every day around the London Bridge area there are different charities looking to sign people up to give donations. First of all it a pain when these people jump in your face and is it legal?? they are no different to beggers. I've heard only 1 out of every 50 goes to a good cause.

I also don't think it the charities themselves out on the streets signing people up but another organization claiming to act on there behalf

any thoughts?
Wednesday 12 July 2006 2.59pm
As someone who works in charity sector and who was until recently Head of Finance for one of the UK's better known charities, I'd like to say a couple of things in response:

i) yes, it is legal though the code of conduct and posibly the legal framework for such fundraising may well be being tightened by future legislation/voluntary codes;

ii) I agree that it can be a nuisance though I do find it very easy just to avoid eye contact with them or make it clear that I'm not interested;

iii) In most cases the street fundraisers are paid for the work they do and an element of each donation goes to their agency rather than to the charity, though this should be made clear when you sign up. In any event, unless its a very poorly managed charity, the amount that ends up with the charity is many times higher than 1 out of 50.

iv) at the charity I worked at, it was a highly effective and very valuable source of income for what the charity believed was it's very worthwhile activity. The charity relied on individual donations to the tune of 70% of its total income and this was a crucial way of raising that income whilst hopefully engaging individuals with the nature of it's work. We wouldn't have continued it if we only got 1 in every 50.

v) modern charities are businesses, and not staffed by lots of willing volunteers. They have to be good businesses to survive and to continue to fulfil their charitable objectives to the best of their ability. People like myself get paid a reasonable salary (though not as much as I earned in the city) to bring skills that ensure that the charity continues to develop and flourish in trying to achieve it's objectives. You could therefore argue that an individual's donation is funding me and that's not charitable activity, but if I'm doing my job properly and helping to secure that charity's future charitable activity, then isn't that still worthwhile? You may well disagree but, similarly, donations don't grow on trees and all charities pay fundraisers to help bring in the cash that get's their work done. It may not fufil the idyllic impression of a charity but that's the modern world for you.
Thursday 13 July 2006 11.14am
Sadly, it is legal for chuggers to harass you if they have permits for the area.
You will usually see a rotation of charities and the area will usually be left "fallow" every few days/weeks to ensure that not enough people complain about the same people at the same time. Chuggers are not supposed to obstruct your path by stepping in front of you (no, really!)

If you want to complain you can ask to speak to the Team Leader on site - this might result in slightly less obstructive behaviour for 10 mins. You can also complain to Southwark Council, who I think issue the permits. I've emailed to get a contact name for you.

Please be aware that the PFRA (Public Fundraising Regulatory Association), which sounds like an organisation set up to protect the public, was actually set up by the companies which run chugging teams. They needed to find a way to allay public concerns and carve up the country so that each company got a bite of the cherry, without competing with each other. Also, by being (self) regulated they were able to put more pressure on those local authorities that resisted allowing chugging.

Still, it works for the charities, who now rely on it income and are notgoing to be receptive to adopt a less intrusive means of fundraising. Face to Face fundraising is a fantastic way for a large charity to wipe its hands clean of a lot of hassle and just pay a company to get the public to sign up.

Chugging is big, big business and can only be fought on a local area by area basis. I think if a group of young beggars organised themselves this effectively, they'd be asbo'd out of it in ten minutes. So why is it ok when people wear bibs and collect for something they do not have a personal interest in? Chuggers are people employed to be cynically ignorant with a smiling face. Human animated advertisement hoarding. Just because they are not hurling abuse at you or fitting you does not mean you are not being assaulted by them.

I work for a charity and we have had heated internal debate about whether this is an appropriate form of fundraising or not. I have to say I cringe when I walk past a team of people collecting money for our charity and think of all the fat legacies we will lose as people grow to hate us .......
Thursday 13 July 2006 2.49pm
Whereabouts on London Bridge - Borough or city end?
Monday 17 July 2006 9.06am
I dont give to any street charity collectors who are out in force with the 'vests' on, ever since i heard they get in excess of ninety pounds each day and want you to hand over your bank details and pay set amount a month...recognised charities who rattle the tin are more likely to get my coins...
Monday 17 July 2006 9.54am
Bad news
Tin rattlers are sometimes paid too, and sometimes on commission
Monday 17 July 2006 11.15am
i'd prefer to give money by DD, as then i know that one a certain day every month (or every quarter, or whatever), a set amount (which i decided) will go to that charity.

it would be inconceivable to think that the chugger gets a commision on my dd every month though right? once it's set up, all the money goes to the charity.
Monday 17 July 2006 11.26am
If anyone decides to pay a regular amount each month to a charity it's worth checking if your employer supports Give As You Earn (which allows the charity to claim back tax on your donation).

And then you can stop and say to any really persistent Chugger, "thank you, but I prefer that 128% of my donation goes direct to the charity concerned". I find that usually forstalls any further conversation...
Monday 17 July 2006 12.13pm
My wife and I only give to one charity, Hope & Homes for Children (, which we know is efficient and have been involved with for years.

This has the secondary advantage of being able to say "I only give to a single charity, Hope & Homes for Children" when you get charity mugged - it shuts them straight up.

BTW, I am sure that Gareth is right that many 's of each 50 you donate go to the actual people who need help, but I am willing to bet it is less than half in many cases. Indeed I always understood that several charities spend more in admin than they raise each year.


Monday 17 July 2006 12.19pm
Siduhe wrote:
If anyone decides to pay a regular amount each month to a charity it's worth checking if your employer supports Give As You Earn (which allows the charity to claim back tax on your donation).

And then you can stop and say to any really persistent Chugger, "thank you, but I prefer that 128% of my donation goes direct to the charity concerned". I find that usually forstalls any further conversation...

Quite agree with the sentiment, but in fact any charity worth its salt will ask for a "Gift Aid" certificate for donations (regular or one-off) which enable the tax to be recovered - GAYE and your employer does not come into it.

A small extra benefit of Gift Aid is that if you pay higher rate tax (40%), you save yourself the extra 12% tax, as the Gift Aid donation is effectively added to your tax allowance.
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