Help! I’ve been Chugged!

And, unless you’re agoraphobic, I’m guessing you have been, too.

Since the weather’s gotten a bit nicer, it’s become a bit of an epidemic.

So, you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, probably cataloging your list of impossible things you have to accomplish before breakfast, when you’re approached by a friendly-looking young person asking for a moment of your time. They are legitimate street canvassers for legitimate, and often large, charities. They’ll be displaying a proper ID badge, they’ll have licensing and probably they’ll be wearing a vest or something that identifies them as being with a certain charity. It’s their job to convince you to donate. Not just to donate–but so sign up for a monthly giving program.

These are “chuggers” or “charity muggers.”

Okay. I’m not anti-charity, nor am I anti-donation. I have worked for a lot of NFPs and Charities, and I’m a big believer in them. I donate to charity. And the first 48 times I was approached by one of these (generally good looking and pleasant) young people, I politely said “no thanks” and kept moving.

But it’s getting worse. And I’m getting pissed off. I really, really hate being solicited for donations when I’m walking down the street. In general, I hate “Push” marketing, and this, while it’s for a good cause, is still Push marketing.

I love Chuggers badges
Um. Yeah. Not so much.

Photo Credit: Howard Lake via Compfight

The worst culprits here in Vancouver are Because I am a Girl, and Amnesty International. Again, both good charities, I have nothing against the organizations. But it makes me want to NOT donate to them, simply because of the methods they are using to garner donations. I am an ardent feminist, and I especially think that Because I am A Girl is fabulous. But…

In the UK, the backlash against chuggers has been growing.

So. I’m guessing I’m not the only person that hates this method of fundraising. But, as Dr. Phil says “what are you getting out of it?” Clearly the charities must be experiencing success in raising funds this way, or else why would they continue doing it?

From my research, it’s my guess that face-to-face fundraising is the most successful. I understand Direct Mail (interestingly NOT e-mail) is quite a successful method of fundraising as well. So, why chuggers?

According to Tom Ahern’s blog, chuggers target a different donor audience: the 30-and-under set. It makes sense: you’re solicited by someone you can identify with–someone young and attractive, with a social conscience. And, in addition, accessing a new, younger donor base is a big priority for many charities. So, if you get someone to start donating in their late ’20s and early 30’s, it would seem that you’ll have them for a longer time than someone who starts giving in their ’40s and ’50s, right?

Not necessarily. There’s a much higher chance that a younger donor will fall into financial difficulty and cancel their monthly gift. They are less reliable and less financially stable.

So, please. If you are reading this, and you run a charity organization, and are either currently using chuggers, or are considering starting, just say no. Let us choose how we want to donate. Don’t pressure us, or push us. Create awareness through social media and allow us to become ambassadors for you instead.


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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 1

  1. My guess is they get the polite people ONCE and those people do not renew. HATE THEM and I am quite blunt and rude to them if they say anything after I say no thanks.

    Great post – I’ve never heard the term Chugger. Hilarious.

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