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WIBU to walk away from this charity?

(91 Posts)
unobtanium Wed 26-Jun-13 13:10:52

I get accosted on my high street at least twice a month by charities asking for donations.

I really want to give -- the causes are always worthwhile, but their "conditions" make it so difficult.

They won't take cash, they won't take cheques, they won't take one-off donations from any card.

No, they MUST have your signature for a direct debit, here and now. Of course you can cancel the arrangement after a year, if you keep all the documentation, and remember to go through all the correct formalities in June 2014.

When I protest that aside from the odd ad-hoc donation, my husband and I already sponsor a Kenyan child and her family, plus contribute to one other cause on an ongoing basis, and that we always agree together on long-term commitments... they don't quite seem to get it.

They won't give leaflets to take away, nor even the direct debit form (the one they want me to sign then and there) to complete with my husband and send in to them later.

I always feel absolutely terrible after these encounters. It's probably very frustrating for them too.

Could they not be more flexible? I know they need to be able to plan, but their terms put so many people off, and surely a one-off donation here and now is better than nothing?

Eyesunderarock Fri 28-Jun-13 12:42:00

'Those Diabetic Donkey's in Damascus get everything! '

Oh Gods, what have I started? grin
I'm going to have to check that there really isn't a DDD charity, aren't I?

specialsubject Fri 28-Jun-13 12:48:18

they get one 'no thank you'. Any more persistence and you are justified in letting fly with all the abuse you want.

the only way to give to charity is direct, cheque or bank transfer. All else is wasteful.

brightyoungthing Fri 28-Jun-13 13:08:01

In Bournemouth with a friend we walked past a chugger twice in the shopping center and both times we gave a polite 'no thanks'.

The third time we walked past he started the 'Hello girls, can I have a moment of your time' spiel so I said 'you have already asked us twice today'! in my best pissed off voice and he said 'sorry love, I only remember the good looking ones'!!! shockshockshock

We were mortified to say the least, especially as we were 15 and thought we were the good looking ones!

lottiegarbanzo Fri 28-Jun-13 13:10:29

Op, you sound lovely, so here's my best 'being very nice' response, which I discovered because it was true on a couple of occasions, then realised that, if you can bear to tell a little white lie, it has universal utility.

'Oh, I already support you, good luck', big smile, supportive wave, move briskly away. They always smile and say something nice back.

If you want to make the most of your donations, choose your own charity, as you have, approach them directly and give long term, as you do. Don't go via an agent, or chop and change, as admin to set up an account /membership costs them a lot.

I feel a need to defend 'face to face' and 'door to door' recruitment though. Charities employ them because it works and makes them money. People who would not otherwise give, do, via these methods. If you're motivated to give anyway, great, don't do it via an intermediary but do recognise that other people are not the same as you.

Of course they are paid, it's a pretty tiring, thankless job and few volunteers would do it, certainly not day in day out, would you? Even if some vols did, it would cost more to recruit and organise enough of them to do it effectively than it does to pay agents.

So, the value to the charity is based on the number of people who stay on after the first year, as the first year's donation pays for the recruitment and admin. There can be a conflict of interest there, if the recruiters are paid commission, which most are (minimum wage base, or commission, whichever is greater), as they want to sign people up for the highest sum possible, but the bigger the direct debit, the more likely someone is to cancel during the first year. Even so, managed well, the charities make money.

babybarrister Fri 28-Jun-13 13:12:56

I was phoned a few days ago to increase the level of my monthly donation to a quite small charity. When I said no, the woman then told me that it was costing the charity £11,000 to pay for this campaign to get people to increase their subscriptions - I was hmm - should I really be donating just to cover their extra bloody costs?!angry

MsGee Fri 28-Jun-13 13:30:03

There is a lot of misunderstanding as to how charities operate financially.

'Chugging' works because it provides a good return on investment. If it didn't charities would not fundraise this way (and many don't if they have a more 'unpopular' cause).

The cost of a campaign to the charity is irrelevant. They might have been calling 500,000 donors for an upgrade and generated £80,000 of extra income - in which case £11,000 is a good investment.

Charities do not want people to be harassed into giving and then cancel their donation- it costs them and its frankly not worth it. So if the 'chugger' is too aggressive complain to the charity and they will deal with it. Or go to the Fundraising Standards Board. Particularly if they lie and say you cannot cancel the DD for a year.

There has been debate about how to get people to sign up to DD methods for years - but as long as they provide the right return on investment charities will use them. And individual giving via DDs DOES allow a charity to plan for the future - particularly smaller charities who struggle to secure unrestricted funding in other ways.

Personally I don't give to chuggers. I don't buy off my doorstep - I research the charities I want to support and set up a DD that way. But I understand that they are just doing their job.

LineRunner Fri 28-Jun-13 13:35:28

I loathe chuggery.

Walk past and ignore.

YouTheCat Fri 28-Jun-13 13:42:09

I had one on the phone last month. She started at could you give £30 a month by direct debit.

I said 'no I have no idea from month to month if I will have any spare cash whatsoever'.

She went down to £20. I repeated the same. And finally (after another 2 or 3 requests) she came down to £3 a month.

My answer was the same. She really didn't seem to get the concept of not having disposable cash left at the end of the month. If I do have spare cash, it goes into my 'disaster fund' in case a washer breaks or the fridge buggers up. It's not going to save a fucking panda.

MsPickle Fri 28-Jun-13 13:46:33

Don't feel bad.

And say "je suis tres desole, mais je n'parle plus Francais" (sorry, on phone no accents available!)

Works every time-they say, oh, sorry and back off then work out what they have just heard. Non aggressive and funny.

TheRealFellatio Fri 28-Jun-13 13:52:29

YANBU. I think it was a very sad day for charities the day they seemingly collectively decided to go down this pressure selling route. Even the fact that these chuggers earn commission and see it as a paid job annoys me no end. I never, ever give money to anyone who thinks only my bank details are good enough.

GalaxyDefender Fri 28-Jun-13 14:35:33

I was suckered by one of these guys once. In my defense, I was heavily pregnant and stressed out.
I felt hounded into setting up a DD, which the guy was adamant could not be less than £10 a month. Which I couldn't really afford so I cancelled it almost immediately. Basically they got a one-off payment of a tenner, which I would gladly have given, but no, DDs only.

Makes my blood boil, a lot of chuggers purposely target vulnerable passers-by because they're easy prey. I got roped into a Lovefilm subscription once the same way (I admit, I get anxious and will sign up just to make the person happy) and now I'm not allowed to go to the local city without DP grin

babybarrister Fri 28-Jun-13 17:36:37

I am a trustee of two small charities and I very much disagree with McGee. Charities will never be able to predict what their lost revenue might be if they piss off possible future donors - but lose money they will and it will also have an effect on reputation in relation to which it is very difficult again to predict the affect on future income such as grant income from trusts or government etc - such income frequently forms a much much higher percentage of total income than individual donations. Certainly the charities I am a trustee of would never use such methods as we would certainly assume it would impact on this grant income. So, some charities decide to go down a route where they will do anything as they guess that the amount they will gain will be more than they will lose - who in fact knows though relation to my point about spending £11,000 on a telephone campaign, as I emphasised, it is a small charity. I therefore really wonder what 'profit' will be made for the charity once the fixed costs are deducted. Volunteers have a fundamental role in charities and frankly it is not a bad thing for people to know that the money they give is not being used in admin or to pay fundraising costs

lottiegarbanzo Fri 28-Jun-13 18:12:16

The key there babybarrister is they are small charities. Their fundraising model is very different from large charities. I worked for many years for a few closely-related medium-sized charities (staff of 25-60 each, plus many volunteers) and the evidence of their balance sheets, over 15-20 years now, is that F2F and D2D works.

In fact it is particularly valuable precisely because it gives you that holy grail 'unrestricted' income (which for these charities, heavily dependent on grant income, was indeed a small proportion of overall funds), that you can direct towards your core charitable objectives, including those areas of work that external funders aren't interested in. It can give you the freedom to really 'be' what you're there to be, rather than being pulled in other directions by funders. It can also be used as the 5 or 10% matched funding needed to enable you to apply to those funders, so multiplying the value hugely, of course. So it gets you more of both types of funding.

I don't understand your point about these methods having a negative impact on grant income. What counts is the quality of your application and your ability to deliver reliably. With grant giving bodies, never assume anything, always discuss and use solid evidence.

There is a potential reputational issue with the public of course but that's about managing the way you do this kind of fundraising. Do you employ your own people, or use an agency? How much information about the charity do your fundraisers have - a lot with the risk they'll get things wrong, or a little, perhaps looking poorly informed? Like all sales jobs it's possible to do it in a polite, friendly, informative way, rather than a pushy, rude way.

Doing this sort of thing well is a specialist sales job though. I think people who imagine that many volunteers have the skills, inclination, or time to perform this sort of role well are being quite naive. I'm a specialist in other aspects of the charity's work and I wouldn't do it.

If you have evidence that long-term reputational damage, which impacts upon funding, crucially (the opinions of people who were never going to support the charity anyway aren't so important), will outstrip the fundraising benefits of face to face recruitment I'd be really interested to see it. The evidence at the moment, as far as I'm aware, is that this works and has done for quite a long time for many charities.

No excuse at all for arsey chuggers of course and certainly no reason to feel bad for walking away from them.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 28-Jun-13 18:31:09

lottie exactly. DH is a fundraising manager for a charity and I frankly find it absurd that people expect them to be entirely staffed by volunteers. Do you really think any charity bigger than a local residents' association would survive without the organisation of professional administrators and fundraisers?

Fundraising doesn't take away from the charity's work - it ensures that it can continue.

DH employs door to door fundraisers who are especially selected for being easy-going, friendly types. They do have an interest in the charity - they just also need jobs. I really fail to see why this is a problem.

DH gets paid for what he does supporting the charity. Does that mean he is some kind of cynical git? Obviously not. We give generously to the charity he works for, he also volunteers for them, and he works countless hours of overtime. But, you know, he needs to pay the bills.

However, the key in face to face fundraising is that no means no. If a charity collector is aggressive towards you or even overly persistent, report them.

And yy to the point about volunteers not being ideal representatives of the charity. Have you ever tried to escape from a National Trust volunteer??? <scarred>

MsGee Sat 29-Jun-13 15:18:48

Agree with Lottie and Revolting - am surprised by the views of babybarrister. Pissing off donors is about how you implement your fundraising methods, not the methods per se.

Whilst grant income does make up more of a % of income for smaller charities, institutional funders (lottery, statutory or trusts) want to see evidence of diversity of income, and that the charity is taking steps to boost unrestricted funding. If the charities you work with won't explore individual giving due to thinking that there will be a negative impact on grant income, then they are misinformed in their thinking. It may not be right for the charity but I would be surprised that this is the reason. The decision to invest in individual giving tends to depend not only on the size of the charity, but the cause and the investment available to diversify funding.

As I mentioned - the 'profit' for telephone and F2F fundraising is all based on return on investment and there are fairly standard expectations of return as to whether a campaign is successful or not.

I don't think anyone in the sector disputes the role of volunteers but volunteers do not match every type of fundraising. Community and event fundraising - yes, regular giving and institutional funding - probably not. I am amazed at the number of people who think that volunteers can do everything that paid staff in charities do.

sandwichyear Sat 29-Jun-13 15:37:23

As an aside- everyone always feels guilty about this, and tends to preface their refusal with "I know it's a good cause...." etc etc. But after being involved with two major household name charities in recent years and seeing how inefficiently, wastefully and bureaucratically they were run (as well as having some real problems with the substance of some of what they were doing) I have been a lot more sceptical about giving to charity without knowing a lot more about how exactly the money will be used.

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