Beware of Chuggers, those aggressive street corner fundraisers

I imagine many of you have been approached by Chuggers at one time or another. Chugger is the term used to describe those street corner fundraisers who essentially accost prospective donors. The term is a combination of the words “charity” and “mugger” and it is a very apt description. What these people do, allegedly on behalf of various charitable organizations such as OXFAM and the Red Cross, is try to get you to stop, in a very aggressive manner so they can tell you their story.

Frequent complaints about paid street fundraisers include the use of aggressive or deceitful tactics, lack of knowledge of the charity, refusal to listen to a person who doesn’t want to stop, the use of sarcasm or other negative language intended to make a person feel guilty if they decline to stop. Paid street fundraisers are sometimes known as chuggers because usually fundraising is viewed as aggressive or invasive (a portmanteau of “charity” and “mugger”). It became popular as a way of referring to street fundraisers after several articles appeared in British newspapers which pointed out the negative image of the people doing the job – Wikipedia

They usually wear some sort of identifying vest and they wave a clipboard in your face in an attempt to convince you they are genuine. Imagine the worst kind of super aggressive salesperson and you have an idea of their method. (As one who will walk out of a store  rather than be trailed around by a pushy salesperson I can only imagine this means of fundraising would turn off more people than it would attract, but that’s just me.) I have blogged before about the need to vet your charity, and that is still a very important thing to do.


My experience was typical; on several consecutive days last summer, as I sat reading during my lunch hour, I was approached by a pleasant but determined young woman  who, apparently, was raising funds for a charity that saved animals from puppy mills and the like. A very noble cause for sure. After a few days of explaining I wasn’t interested I finally thought “What the hell” and said I’d have a listen.

The woman was articulate, well spoken and friendly, she knew her pitch well, quoting several recent gruesome and heinous animal cruelty news items. Once finished she asked if I had any questions; I didn’t. She then asked if I would like to donate and I asked her to send me some information by email and I would consider it. She said she couldn’t do that, giving me pause. What she wanted, believe it or not, was my banking information so “we can set up monthly donations” which would be much simpler for me.

Was she for real? Did she really think I would give my banking information to an absolute stranger on the street corner?

But this made me think that if there are so many of these Chuggers there must be people out there who will, indeed, give their banking details out to any Tom, Dick or Harriet.

It seems this Chugging was very popular in Britain until an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph exposed them.

I’m certainly not against charity, and I understand they have to ask or they won’t get, but beware of overly aggressive Chuggers as in these difficult economic times your money is of interest to everyone.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+



4 thoughts on “Beware of Chuggers, those aggressive street corner fundraisers

  1. Pingback: The Chamberlain Files

  2. I keep on walking when I get accosted by “Chuggers”. I was in fundraising before and we do not have to use this trick at all. The real fundraisers don’t need “Chuggers”. We use well know people to endorse our charitable organization. Thanks for the link. I hope someone will read it at my post.

  3. Pingback: Beware charities bearing gifts. Guilt as a fundraising tool; don’t give in! | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society

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