We all experience it regularly. You head out to quickly grab some lunch but as you walk down the street or through the mall you are pounced upon by a charity mugger (or ‘chugger’) harassing you to donate to their charity.
I refuse to call them charity workers because they aren’t. The Salvation Army are charity workers, people who walk the streets giving blankets and food to the homeless are charity workers. Big Issue sellers are always polite, they are working hard and the majority of the money stays with them.
The people I refer to as charity muggers on the other hand, are employees of pushy network marketing companies who just happen to have charity as their client.
It is getting beyond a joke. Today I tried to walk 50 metres through a shopping mall and during that time I was attacked by 3 differed groups, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Save the Children. These days, the simple task of getting lunch requires you to successfully navigate your way through a human assault course as you try to avoid them all.
Not content with that, 5 minutes later I was attacked by all 3 again when I walked back with my lunch. I’m still not sure how they didn’t end up with a medium sized serve of spaghetti and meatballs all over them.
The simple task of getting lunch requires you to successfully navigate your way through a human assault course
Never stop for a chugger
You know the scenario. You are happily walking along, minding your own business, when suddenly you hear a charity mugger yell “Excuse me mate, can I ask you a quick question?”
Whenever I hear these words, I fight every urge inside me to tell them where to stick their charity, or tell them that unless that question centres around how you can get a real job, the answer is no. Instead, I used to reply with a firm “no” and move on, these days I just ignore them, not because I’m rude but because I’ve had enough.
Whatever you do, don’t stop, even for a second. Keep walking because once you stop and pay attention to them you’re stuck like a gazelle in the jaws of a lion.
Even worse are the self-righteous ones who think its OK to question you as a person “How much did that sandwich cost you… You know that $25 a month is just under a dollar a day?” I’m sorry but they have no right to question how I spend my money. Especially when they don’t have a clue about how much I donate to other charities (which I choose) during the year.
Take Amnesty International for example. In the past, I’ve straight up been asked “Excuse me, do you care about starving children?” Now obviously I’m not such a cold-hearted bastard that I don’t care about starving children, but regardless of whether I do or don’t, I’m not going to be the gazelle to their lion so I keep walking. The next line they hit with is “Fine, have a nice day then” in a condescending way that implies you’re a complete asshole for not stopping and giving them any money.
Another trick they use is to try and shake your hand and build an imaginary rapport with you with fake friendliness as they try to squeeze money from you. I know its hard but you need to just ignore it and not get sucked in for the handshake. Especially not when the person extending their hand is a dirty dreadlocked hippy.
Sure, I might feel bad when I just walk past them, but I don’t appreciate being called out in public and made to feel like an asshole when I don’t stop and bow to their pressure selling.
I’ll donate to charity because I want to, not because you called me mate and want to ask me a quick question before sending me on a guilt trip.
I don’t appreciate being called out in public and made to feel like an asshole when I don’t stop and bow to their pressure selling.
I’ll donate what I want to, when I want to
If someone is politely standing on the street shaking a tin, I’ll probably dig around in my pockets and give them some change. Maybe a couple of dollars, maybe a $10 note depending on what I have on me at the time.
But if a for profit company has cynically sent out 20 pretty young things to aggressively chat people up on every street corner on behalf of a chairty, to try and push them into a subscription payment plan, then I won’t give them anything except a nasty look.
What happened to the days when charities were happy for you to donate whatever you could afford whenever you wanted to? This is an example of a conversation I had with one of these people recently;
Me “Here is a few dollars”
Chugger “Sorry we only take donations of $30, $50 $150 and $200 via a monthly subscription”
Me “Don’t tell me how much I can donate or when to donate it. Now you get nothing”
Unethical charity muggers
I’m not going to go into the details of some of the unethical practices these companies undertake. You can read a real journalist do that here at The Age.
I will however, pass on some of the things I’ve been told from people who at some stage were employed by one of these companies.
A friend with insider knowledge told me that a common arrangement is for the marketing company to take between 80-100% of the first 12 months of’ donations from people they sign up.
Another friend who used to work for one of these companies but left because of their unethical tactics, told me that the first year of donations went straight to the marketing company instead of the charity you were duped into supporting. She left because they used to specifically target the elderly and people in certain suburbs.
They certainly don’t disclose this information to you when they try to sign you up.
My advice is to do what I do. Pick a charity that you like, that you respect and that will respect you back in return. Go online and donate to them that way.
If we don’t donate to people who attack on the streets. Maybe if we all do that, the charity muggers won’t make their commission and they will be forced to find new jobs which will encourage the charity that employ these practices to find more a more ethical way of getting donations.