GLASGOW City Council will more closely regulate Glasgow street fundraisers next month by decreasing the days and locations the collectors can operate in order to prevent aggressive fundraising.
By John McCarthy
THE rules will restrict the street fundraisers, often known as “charity muggers” or “chuggers” to six city centre sites from which only five collectors can operate at any given time. Each site can host only one charity two days a week in the city centre.
Street fundraisers, a source of annoyance to many commuters, often try to stop passers-by to ask for money. Some members of the public have even claimed Glasgow fundraisers have asked them questions such as, “do you care if children are dying” or “do you even care if rare animals become extinct”, in order to receive a donation.
Gordon Matheson, Glasgow City Council leader, said: “The issue of street fundraisers is a source of annoyance to many shoppers and visitors.
“We recognise charities have the legal right to raise funds on our streets, but we must ensure people working in, living in and visiting Glasgow are not inconvenienced by this practice.
“Glasgow City Council has pro-actively tackled this situation and we believe this new voluntary agreement will go a long way to help solve the issues raised by the public about street fundraisers.
“This agreement involves controls on when, where and how many street fundraisers are operating in our city at any time and also how they conduct themselves.”
Walking in front of members of the public, following them, blocking shop entrances or being near dining areas will result in penalties.
Fundraisers often work for an independent company unaffiliated with the charities they represent and earn their employers around £80-£160 for every direct debit signed up.
A survey by easyfundraising.org.uk found 60% of people in the UK said that fundraisers put them off supporting a charity and over 40% had actually stopped supporting a charity specifically because of concerns over their aggressive fundraising techniques.
Fundraisers earn charities substantially more revenue but, as a result, they are paid from money that has been donated to the charity. At the moment it is not mandatory for fundraisers to mention that they take a substantial fee or tariff, also many people assume that collectors are affiliated with the charity they appear to work for.
A former collector, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We had a day of training that covered our charity’s history, its aims, its activities across the world and some of its main campaigns in the UK and worldwide.
“I was paid £7.50 an hour and got anything between one and six donations daily. Some days you’d have really nice chats with people or you’d meet people that had been helped by your charity. Other times people would shout and swear at you, and I remember a drunk man trying to hug me and show me his knife wounds.
“People act as if you are disgusting. They give you a look as if seeing you is worse than stepping in dog muck and you’re a disgrace to the human race. When some people see street fundraisers they don’t see people working for a charity they see evil chuggers trying to con them.
“But if street fundraising didn’t work then charities wouldn’t do it. It would be great if everyone was donating to charity but they aren’t. Even after paying staff, travel, training and recruitment, street fundraisers still get more donations for the charity than any other form of fundraising.
“I understand why people get annoyed with marketing companies whose fundraisers work for multiple charities. It appears that the fundraisers don’t care about the individual charities and the external companies themselves must make money out of it.
“At the moment you can’t have more than one group at a site at a time but what a fundraising team might classify as a site and what the general public perceive can be different. The new rules will make being in Glasgow less intimidating for tourists and shoppers which will help Glasgow businesses, however, the new legislation may have a detrimental effect on the donations that charities get so they are bound to suffer.
“All large companies outsource services, charities are no different. If you pay people to fundraise then in theory you get more out of the people fundraising and you have more control over hiring and firing. No charity will turn down a volunteer, and there’s always something useful they can do, whereas they can pay to get the best fundraisers to get the most money for their organisation.”
Other changes the agreement will ensure are that all street fundraisers will have to carry photo identity cards and wear official charity tabards or official distinctive clothing.
The Public Funding Regulatory Association (PFRA) has already agreed similar site management schemes with 41 councils in England and Wales, but this is the first such agreement with a council in Scotland.