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Good cause giving - getting the charity beggars off the street

I applaud the philanthropic - the carrying out of activities for the common and wider good rather than selfishly, be they in an investment of time, money or influence. We're (as a family) very lucky in what we have, and I would like to think that some of the things we do and spend on aren't purely selfish - i.e. to make us even luckier.

However - I abhore being approached by charity collectors in person, or by phone calls to us (as a business) from professional beggars who seem to be under the impression that it's alright to chase people at work far more strongly than people at home, and that an answer of "no" doesn't really mean that - it means "try again later - you may reach someone else who is more badgerable".

Visiting an ATM in Melksham last autumn, I was acosted by an old boy shaking his charity tin at me. He was very earnest in putting his cause, and it's one that has huge national support. But, alas, I really didn't want to stop at that point and give money to a charity I had contributed to just a few hours earlier via another collection, nor did I want him so close that he could read my PIN number as I was entering it.

The newspaper this morning headlines "War declared on Street Chuggers" and it states:
• Barred from within 3 metres of shop doorways, station entrances, crossings and cashpoints
• Ability to approach working public curbed
• Ban on pursuing people for more than three steps
Excellent ... except that I think these rules may apply only to people who are looking to get you to sign direct debit mandates. They should - in my view - apply to any charitable collection, whether looking for single or multiple payment.

Not only are collector's fees questionable, but a street approach doesn't give the potential donor an opportunity to think through the donation - to ask things like:
• Do I really want to support this cause?
• How much of my contribution actually gets to the headlined cause, and how much is commission and admin?
• Am I / should I be already supporting this cause through my taxes?
• Is there another cause I would prefer to support?

I have no objection to the handing out of leaflets on the street (but make the leafletting organisation responsible for clearing up any that are discarded). And - by all means - include web sites, SMS phone numbers and other ways to contribute on them. "We're not exactly the most popular people" one chugger (charity mugger) is quoted as saying ... what a travesty that such people are praying on the goodwill of people and how much better it would be to restore faith in charity.
(written 2012-08-21, updated 2012-11-04)

 
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