‘Chuggers’ – The sleazy car salesmen of charities

I will divert from my usual blog content today to go off on a rant about charity muggers, or as they are more commonly known now, ‘chuggers’.

It seems these days, it is almost impossible to walk through a shopping centre or along a populated street without being approached by a chugger. The approach seems to be variations or combinations of irritation such as:

  • Walking up with an extended hand to shake
  • Making a complimentary/amusing comment about me
  • Dancing or gyrating in front of me so they cannot be ignored
  • Juggling or so other diversion
  • Trying to attract my attention, even long after a have passed them

A high percentage of the chuggers seem to be relatively attractive young men or women. Presumably, this assists in enticing people to talk to them. It is noticeable that the majority of the chuggers have an accent. I’m guessing that this is the preferred occupation now for those on working holidays, as opposed to working in a pub or a cafe. I don’t recall ever seeing an elderly chugger. Maybe they just have more respect for how they are perceived.

I will admit that I once did make the effort to listen to a chugger. Admittedly, it was a pity stop as it was a freezing cold day and the girl was standing outside with little protection. And yes, she was attractive and foreign.

She gave her spiel for a charity that I can’t recall but vaguely remember that it was worthwhile. Anyway, she somehow convinced me (…did I mention, attractive and foreign) that I should donate to the charity. I discussed how much I was willing to commit per month to be advised that it wasn’t enough! I was informed that the amount would not be enough to cover the administration costs. I can assure you that the amount was not pennies but real paper money and I was still a cheap skate! Perhaps the charity should consider their administration costs.

I donate to three charities and have done so for close to a decade. I won’t divulge the charities as I consider that choosing your charity and donating is a personal matter. My choices for charities are based on a cause that emotionally moves me. I research the available charities that help the cause and what work they do. I will then make a choice of what charitable organisation I wish to donate to. Prior to this post, I have never told anyone that I donate to a charity. If I felt the need to publicise that I donate, I am probably doing it for the wrong reason.

Perhaps that is why I detest the chugger. They are force-feeding a charity to me without emotion. They are dancing and singing on the street about something like children with cancer. The theatre of the chugger is just to attract attention, without any consideration to the solemn nature of the cause. I don’t expect wailing or tears but some respect. It all feels like someone that wants to earn a commission, not someone with a genuine passion for the charity. It comes across as very sleazy and to be honest, I lose some respect for the particular charity by utilising this approach.

In this age, the point of the chugger makes little point. Prior to the internet, it may have been appropriate to advertise on the street for a charity to promote awareness. As almost everyone carries a computer in their pocket these days and information is just a fingertip away, the need to have someone physically approach you on the street seems pointless.

It is interesting how chuggers and their harassing sales technique has become the standard now for charities. I’m not sure how the approach was developed and why. I have worked in customer service as well as sales for a large part of my career. I have been cognisant of doing my best to avoid ‘commission breath’ and approach customers professionally and with integrity. I may have missed some sales to a more aggressive individual but I always want to go to bed knowing I have helped a person and not just helped myself.

I won’t abuse a chugger but neither will I make the effort to acknowledge them. Perhaps I am being petty, however, to me they are serving no one but themselves with no interest to a charity.

To me, if someone wants to donate some money in the morning, go no further than the old fella sitting quietly in his Salvation Army outfit. These people live the cause.

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