John Kampfner: Walk on by– but don't ban the chuggers

I fall into the classic grump category - professional men of a certain age

Share

There I was, coming out of the Tube and walking down the road, when I was accosted … The litany of complaints about "chuggers" – the young band of street fund-raisers – has reached the point where one might be forgiven for thinking these brightly-clad students were a grave threat to public order.

Chugging is the most "in yer face" means of collecting money for development, environmental and other charities. It can be, and for anyone in a hurry invariably is, incredibly annoying. Only last week I was approached by a young woman who side-skipped half a dozen paces to tell me what a nice person I was. This statement was so unlikely to be true that I harrumphed and told her with a sideways tilt of my shoulder that I was far too busy to talk.

According to school-leavers and university summer-vacationers I know who have done this, I fall into the classic grump category – professional men of a certain age. The people most likely to give are other young people and mums with children (I gender stereotype advisedly). You are more likely to get a tolerant hearing in Greenford than in Green Park, where they are on their way to their hedge fund offices or auction houses.

It is no surprise that multinational charities, such as Oxfam, are reconsidering their relationship with the companies that run the schemes. Strict rules are supposed to be in place: you are not allowed to move more than two steps to approach someone; you are not supposed to flirt or touch or begin to criticise someone who marches on. If you have failed to sign anyone up, having been on your feet all day, the temptation to go too far is considerable.

The two issues that the charities should look at most are the proportion of money they accrue from such exercises and the potential damage to the message. The chuggers often have no idea who they are representing until they turn up for work. According to the Institute of Fundraising, which is leading the re-think, last year 865,000 people signed up for long-term giving – providing £130m for good causes. For sure, tighten the rules and monitor chuggers better (by that I don't mean a further descent into authoritarian policing), but does anyone but Mr Grump gain by a ban or draconian restrictions? I've had to run fundraising for two organisations – neither suited chugging. Most charities rely on a mix of high net worth individuals (how I abhor that phrase, but find myself using it), large foundations, donation boxes, email campaigns, word of mouth and more. It is a constant slog and easy to make mistakes. It is far easier, however, to walk on the other side, muttering and spluttering as you make your way into the coffee shop for your daily latte.

John Kampfner is author of 'Blair's Wars' and 'Freedom For Sale'.

Twitter: @johnkampfner

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“I just wanted some chicken wings,” Tan Shen told the assembled media. “But once I got in there ... I decided I needed time to think.”  

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015