Wednesday 26 April 2017

Chugging is very cost-effective but many organisations opt not to do it

Chugging is cost-effective, creates a visible presence for the charity on the streets in terms of branding and, crucially, reaches that most lucrative age group, the over-25s. Getty Images
Chugging is cost-effective, creates a visible presence for the charity on the streets in terms of branding and, crucially, reaches that most lucrative age group, the over-25s. Getty Images

Sarah-Jane Murphy and Luke Byrne

It's no surprise that many high-profile Irish charities and NGOs use chugging as a means of raising funds. It has evolved into a massive and controversial industry since its introduction here in the late 1990s.

Chugging is cost-effective, creates a visible presence for the charity on the streets in terms of branding and, crucially, reaches that most lucrative age group, the over-25s.

It is a misconception that chuggers are philanthropic volunteers. As charities are businesses in a highly competitive market, most opt to employ paid 'professional' fundraisers.

Some Irish charities even employ private companies to recruit fundraisers.

All of the chuggers that Sarah-Jane worked with at Amnesty were either in third-level education or had just graduated. They were highly intelligent and very employable people, working for 50c more than the minimum wage per hour.

In order to gauge the Irish charity sector's attitudes to the practice of chugging, the Irish Independent contacted 16 high-profile charities and NGOs. We asked them where they stood in relation to targeting particular age groups in the hope of securing a long-term donation or even a legacy.

Most of the organisations we spoke to said they did not use chugging.

Of those that did, ActionAid said it briefed chuggers regarding the age of potential sign-ups.

"Our fundraisers are advised to sign up people 23-plus years and not more than 75," they said.

Concern, Ireland's largest aid agency, said it preferred to ensure that donors signing up were genuinely committed to its emergency and development work, "regardless of their age".

However, it said the majority of donors who give regularly were those aged over 30 and its fundraisers were advised of this.

Oxfam said it did not engage in on-street fundraising but called to people's houses.

Focus Ireland hasn't used on-street fundraising "for a few years".

The DSPCA said it did not use on-street fundraising and was actively opposed it.

"We are far too respectful of out donors for that," chief executive Brian Gillan said.

Irish Independent

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