Posts Tagged: charity fundraising

The Right to Ask campaign misses the point

The question of whether charities have a “right to ask” the public for donations has been stirring up controversy lately.

The Institute of Fundraising wants to remind the public that fundraisers – whether they stop you on the street, knock on your door while you are in the middle of dinner or phone you at home – have the right to do so because their beneficiaries need funds.

The aim of its campaign would be to reduce bad feeling among the public towards charity fundraisers, and to give fundraisers a more positive attitude to their work.

The institute is right to address the issue, but I think it is missing the point. Plenty of charity fundraisers know that they have a “right to ask”. The trouble is, most of the general public do not feel confident about their own right to say no.

I used to get annoyed and even embarrassed when I was stopped by face-to-face fundraisers. I felt guilty about not signing up. My new approach – of explaining that I do my charitable giving online and will not sign up in any other way – seems to be working well. But the trouble is, I am in a minority.

If people felt able to politely say no without feeling guilty about it, they wouldn’t have such a problem with fundraisers. If they wanted to support the charity’s work, they’d sign up. And if not, they’d let the charities spend their time talking to other people who might.

But I suspect this is a message the sector is less keen to promote. People do sign up because they feel guilty, and this is probably more common with face-to-face and door-to-door than with other types of fundraising. If these folk started saying no, charities could be sacrificing cash to appease public opinion.

Is it a price the sector is willing to pay?

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What is it like to be a chugger? I asked one, and this is what he told me

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.

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Has Gift Aid reform come any closer?

Some experts on giving and philanthropy have been wary about the idea of redirecting to charities the tax rebate that can be claimed by higher-rate taxpayers on Gift Aided donations. Such a move might have unpredictable effects on giving by the rich, they warn – especially in a continuing recession with a new 50 per cent tax rate looming for those earning more than £150,000.

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Full marks for Pell & Bales

There was a bit of lull in the rugby between England and Argentina – in fact, the whole thing was a bit of a lull – so I didn’t object too much to taking a call from a charity on a Saturday afternoon. And when the young woman said she was calling from “P&B on behalf of Save the Children”, the antennae twitched a bit: this must be none other than Pell & Bales, who have been on the naughty step a bit recently. Allegations of inappropriate remarks to cancer sufferers, ‘admin’ calls to people who don’t want to be called – you’ve probably read about it in the press. So I listened intently.

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Nude charity calendars: had enough yet?

Another week, another nude charity calendar. Bright young internet entrepreneurs are the latest to strike
coy poses for the London Nude
Tech 2010
to raise cash for education charity Take Heart India.

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