Picture this: it's a lovely cool, clear crisp day. You're walking along the high street enjoying yourself when you hear it: the sound of buckets full of change rattling. You look up and very quickly spot the source of the sound: several people are ahead of you waving buckets and banners purporting to be collecting for charity XYZ. What do you do?
Well, if you're like me, you very quickly change direction or cross to the other side of the street to try and avoid these bucket-rattling "chuggers". Whilst they're not chuggers by the Wikipedia definition, I still refer to them as chuggers as they're still trying to guilt you into making a donation to their cause.
Chuggers have got to be very high up on the list of things I detest most in life. It's not that I'm a scrooge, tightwad or a heartless bast*rd, it's I just object to their methods of raising money for charity in this very anti-social and quite un-charitable manner. The primary reasons I detest this form of raising money for charity are...
- Charity is all about giving out of the goodness of your heart, not being forced into donating by someone sending you on a guilt trip or pressuring you into it. As my mum always said: if you're not going to do something with a good grace, don't do it at all.
- These chuggers assume you don't already make regular donations to one or more charities of your own choice, either in your own time or directly from your salary. Of course they could just be ignoring this fact.
- These chuggers assume you actually agree with their cause. Now I believe charities are needed for some major causes, but some of the charities out there are almost charities for the sake of being charities. I'm not going to name them, but I'm sure you all know of at least one charity that falls in this category.
- They're missing the biggest gift-horse and aid to their charity that there is in the UK - the lovely tax feature that is gift aid. If your charity is that important to you, surely you'd prefer your charity received at least £1.25 for every £1 donated. You can't get gift aid on bucket collections.
- This method of raising money is so easy to fake and hard to verify that it can easily be used rip off a lot of people under the guise of "collecting for a charitable cause".
Now with an understanding of my dislike for these bucket-rattlers, imagine my chagrin when I arrived at work on Wednesday morning to be confronted by 3 bucket-rattlers in the office foyer collecting for the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Yes; this was a terrible event. Yes; all those people in Haiti need all the help they can get. But NO; this is not the way to do it, especially 3 weeks after the event, after everyone has already been bombarded with requests to donate many many times before for the same appeal when it first happened.
Not one to back down on my principles, I greeted all 3 with a very cheery "Good morning" and walked right past them. One of them called out after me: "Shall we come see you later then?" to which I replied "No thank-you" and I went on my way. My opinion of bucket-rattling chuggers was further affirmed when three more people took their place right in front of restaurant doors at lunch time, in our CASHLESS office.
So my message to all those collecting for charity: please please please don't become a bucket-rattling chugger. There are much better and more rewarding methods of collecting for your chosen cause: run the London Marathon, come up with some obscure and courageous challenge or donate some of your time to help the charity directly and increase people's awareness of your charity, just don't resort to using buckets.