Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Call for tighter regulations to curtail rise of ‘chuggers’

Politicians are calling for tighter rules and regulations around charity street fundraising, with one Dublin city councillor branding the practice "repugnant and insulting". 

Mannix Flynn, independent councillor Dublin South East, said he has been raising the issue of chuggers — people who seek donations for charities on the streets — for the past two years and has tabled a question to Dublin city manager on the issue and has even spoken to gardaí.

"If this was any other trader or person trying to sell goods, this would not be allowed. I know people who try to avoid them and the streets they are on but they can be hard to get by. This is hard sell stuff that I find repugnant and insulting."

Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone also called for the curtailment of "chuggers" — charity muggers — which she says are turning main streets into obstacle courses and are giving genuine charities a bad name.

"I have noticed an increasing number of these people and I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of people being paid per hour to stand with clipboards and attempt to sign people up for direct debits," she said.

"I understand that charities are under increasing pressure to bring in revenues. However, I think something has to be done to curtail this approach, and indeed I would question its effectiveness." she said.

"Many of these fundraisers are using what I’d call underhand techniques; attempting to shake your hand, hug you, or even complimenting your dress sense. It seems to me that standards are deteriorating."

Total Fundraising, a company which supplies charities such as Barnardos, Amnesty and Concern, with staff, said it does not train people to hug or jump out in front of people.

A spokesman for the company said everyone is paid a basic hourly rate and after that there are "quality-and quantity"-related bonuses.

The issue has come to the fore once again in recent weeks since the establishment of a twitter account called chuggerwatch. 

The co-founder of the account, Michelle, told the Irish Examiner she was not anti-charity. 

"Telling people where they are — that’s exactly what the purpose of the account is, we are not anti-charity at all, they do fantastic work but behaviour of some of the chuggers is unacceptable and people are being bothered by them."