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A considered approach to fundraising: SOS Children’s choice not to use ‘chuggers’

A considered approach to fundraising: SOS Children’s choice not to use ‘chuggers’

A recent article in the Telegraph highlights a new investigation which has revealed that some street charity fundraisers - known as 'chuggers' - are failing to follow guidelines governing their conduct. For many years, SOS Children UK has chosen not to use face-to-face fundraisers as we believe that street fundraising is not the right way to let people know about the work that we do.

The investigation into fundraising company Tag Campaigns, which solicited street donations on behalf of a wide variety of important charities, found that some of the chuggers they secretly filmed were failing to abide by regulatory codes designed to protect the public from harassment or exploitation.

At SOS Children UK we do not make ‘cold calls’, do not knock on doors, do not stop people in the street, and do not pay outside agencies to do these things either. Yet, our charitable income has grown considerably since 2004.

Our priority is to make sure that you can find us on the internet: it is a quietly respectful way to increase funds raised.  We let you find us. We know that you are looking for a charity with our aims, and we hope that you will find our work sufficiently important to want to stay on our website, learn about our work helping vulnerable children around the world, and to make a donation. An issue with street fundraising is the low percentage of the donation which actually goes to the charity's work. By sticking to very low cost fundraising like the internet, we can work to keep our costs low, and so the proportion of income which really helps the children we care for, as high as possible.

Being stopped on the street is not particularly pleasant. And it is reported that cancellation rates of direct debits made on the street are 6.5 times higher than the cancellation rates of direct debits to SOS Children UK. Being called at home by strangers is also intrusive, with a Which survey finding that 75% of people object to cold calling. We also know that direct mailing to lists of people who may never have expressed an interest in us is a waste of the valuable money our donors have entrusted to us, is bad for the environment, and is not the appropriate way to communicate about our work.

SOS Children's UK Chief Executive, Andrew Cates, has long made it clear that he would like to see cold calling and cold mailing made ‘opt in’ only and would welcome an end to the use of street fundraisers: as Andrew says that it is essential the practice is properly regulated and that “it is disappointing that we cannot get them to behave more appropriately.”

We know that we have to be accountable to our donors and we are proud that SOS Children can show how we use every donation to help the children who are in our care.