The fundraisers who come armed with clipboards
High-street 'chuggers' raise millions for good causes – but there could be better ways for us to give, says Harriet Meyer
Sunday 11 November 2007
Walk down almost any major city high street in the run-up to Christmas and you will see them – charity fundraisers clad in fluorescent jackets and armed with clipboards, trying to get shoppers to make direct debit donations to good causes.
While some view them as essential fundraisers, others consider them a bit of a nuisance, obstructing the pavement and using our guilt as a sales tactic. For this reason, they have been given the unflattering name of "chuggers" – part charity collectors, part muggers. But whatever side you are on, there is little doubt as to the effectiveness of chugging.
Last year alone, 210,000 people were persuaded to sign up in the street to support charities, according to the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association. Of the £24m raised last year by Shelter, the charity for the homeless, a quarter came from donors recruited by street fundraisers.
"It has brought in literally millions of new donors," says Alan Gosschalk, Shelter's fundraising director. "On average, every £1 spent on face-to-face fundraising brings in a return of £3."
The majority of street fundraisers work for third-party agencies that have contracts with charities. So if you are considering signing on the dotted line, is the money going directly to the cause? According to Charity Facts, which provides information about the sector, an agency will typically take a fee of £50 to £60 for each person signed up.
Before you agree to donate via street fundraising, ask the collector to tell you exactly how much of your money is going to the charity. Be careful, too, when giving out your bank details to someone claiming to be collecting for charity. "Check they have an authentic ID and a registered charity number," advises Chris Kiggell of the Charity Commission, who adds: "If you know you want to donate money to a charity, then give directly and skip the middle man to maximise your contribution."
Street fundraisers will be subject to a new law from 2009 forcing them to apply for a special Charity Commission permit as well as a local authority one. The legislation will also give councils the power to restrict the number of chuggers operating in their area; in fact, many are lobbying for this to happen sooner, as some shopping streets are already swamped by fundraisers.
So worried about the activities of some street collectors is the trade body the Institute of Fundraising that it issued best-practice guidelines to chuggers earlier this year, calling on them to be non-aggressive and to avoid "congestion and nuisance to the public".
If you prefer to give direct to charity, make sure you make the most of your contribution. Under the Gift Aid scheme, charities can reclaim basic-rate tax relief on any voluntary donations, provided the donor is a taxpayer. For example, 22p can be reclaimed on a donation of 78p, increasing the donation to £1.
What's more, Gift Aid enables higher-rate taxpayers to reclaim the 18 per cent difference between the two tax bands – the basic and higher rate – for themselves when filing their tax return.
Fuel poverty could kill 100,000 vulnerable people over the next 15 years, charity warns
MPs call for Equitable Life policyholders to be paid £2.8bn owed by government
Phoenix Life: Chance of a refund for overcharged policyholders has risen
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
Simon Read: That's right, BT, they'd rather pay for a free service
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads