I never used to stop for chuggers. Before I became Third Sector‘s fundraising reporter, I was one of those annoyed members of the public who walked past quickly, avoided eye contact and mumbled “No, sorry” to any fundraiser who tried to stop me.
I still maintain that I will never sign up for a direct debit on the street, just like our blogger Felicity Donor. I’d much rather choose my charity and donate online. But unlike Felicity I now, instead of ignoring chuggers completely, stop to politely explain why there’s no point in them trying to persuade me.
And so, as I was walking down the high street in Hammersmith the other day, I stopped for the bearded hippy in an EveryChild jacket who waved enthusiastically to me.
He asked me what I did for a living, so I fessed up. “I’m a journalist,” I said. “I cover charity fundraising for Third Sector magazine.”
But instead of smiling and giving up, as chuggers usually do in response, he was intrigued. “It’s a real scandal, you know,” he said, “agencies pay chuggers loads of money. I used to earn £500 a week from an agency.”
I replied that people were often annoyed about chuggers getting paid, but it’s surely unreasonable to expect fundraisers to stand in the freezing cold all day for nothing.
“Yeah,” he said, “but there’s more…”
According to him, there’s a widespread belief among street fundraisers that if an agency decides it doesn’t want a particular chugger any more – perhaps because that chugger is becoming jaded – the agency will find an easy way to fire them.
“They’ll put you in a quiet area, with a rubbish team and a difficult charity, then set you high targets. Then they’ll get rid of you if you don’t meet them,” he said.
And becoming jaded was partly why he quit his agency job and started working for EveryChild, which employs its own team of chuggers.
“You never feel any connection to a charity when you’re working for an agency,” he said. “You just move from one to another every week. I never want to work for a profit-making business again.”
He also said he could never imagine himself doing anything other than chugging. “I’ve been doing it for four years,” he said. “I like fresh air, I like talking to people and I like raising money for a good cause.”
But what about the bad press, and the abuse from the public? That’s life, he told me, and you can’t let people grind you down.
And after all that, he let me wander off. He didn’t even ask me to sign up.
YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT. CLICK REGISTER OR LOGIN AT THE TOP RIGHT OF THE SCREEN