Business Irish

Saturday 25 November 2017

They may be unpopular but 'chuggers' get the job done

Why do charities use 'chuggers' when everyone hates them?

Because they really, really work. While its unpopularity has seen it dropped as a method used by some, including Goal, it can be highly effective. One of Ireland's biggest overseas charities has raised €13m from it and signed up 75,000 long-term donors with chugger tactics.

Total Fundraising Ireland is an Irish company that supplies chuggers or other fundraising teams and services to charities including Barnardos, Amnesty, the ISPCC and Oxfam Ireland.

"A lot of Irish charities wouldn't have the resource to do campaigns themselves," its spokesman said, "plus it works out more effective to outsource for campaigns that are happening at different times of year."

Total Fundraising Ireland says it usually charges a flat fee, but some campaigns are commission-based. "People are still quite suspicious of agencies," he admits.

Charities like to keep a hand-washing distance between themselves and the thorny issue of fundraisers' pay. Trocaire uses an agency for door-to-door collection campaigns that sign up monthly donors. "These companies agree payment structures with employees directly," it says.

Barnardos says it doesn't know how much the fundraisers are paid. "The details of fundraisers' remuneration and benefits are confidential to Total Fundraising and not known to us."

Concern interviews, selects and trains its own street collectors and they're paid an hourly rate. "They are an extremely dedicated group of people, often working long hours in adverse weather conditions," says Concern's Paul O'Mahony. "They receive no bonuses, commission or results-based remuneration."

Although it doesn't do street collection activity, the Marie Keating Foundation has used professional fundraising agencies and consultants.

For two of our events we use an external event management company for which we pay an agreed fee, based on a contractual arrangement," CEO Lillian McGovern says.

The focus now is leveraging donations beyond a one-off donation in a bucket, and collectors often aren't allowed to take cash, they must enlist you for a regular direct debit.

"If someone drops €2 in a bucket it's just a once-off," explains Total Fundraising Ireland's spokesman, "but if you can get someone say to sign up online, or on the street for a regular donation there's a relationship with long-term potential.

"It's still quite a young industry here," he says of the charity fundraising 'business'. "There's still quite a lot of people doing cash collections at church gates instead of more sophisticated campaigns."

Roisin Burke

Sunday Independent

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