Charity fundraisers subject to new rules

Charity fundraisers (generic) Chuggers are not allowed to stand within 3m of a cash machine or shop doorway

Charities now face fines of at least £1,000 if their street fundraisers breach rules designed to protect members of the public.

The restrictions mean that fundraisers, typically referred to as "chuggers", cannot follow a person for more than three steps.

The introduction of the scheme follows a year-long trial.

Chuggers have been criticised for hassling people to set up direct debits, but others say they are vital.

Start Quote

I have also been chased down the street a couple of times by persistent chuggers when I said I wasn't interested, which made me feel unbelievably uncomfortable and embarrassed”

End Quote Katy Dickinson, Nottingham

The new regime, to be enforced across the UK by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), also means street fundraisers must not:

• stand within 3m of a shop doorway, cash machines, pedestrian crossing or station entrance

• sign up anyone to a direct debit who, due to illness, disability, drugs or drink, is unable to give informed consent

• approach members of the public who are working, such as tour guides or newspaper vendors

Breaches of the rules carry penalty points of up to 100 points for the fundraising organisation.

Each charity has a threshold of 1,000 points before having to pay fines. Once this threshold is breached, charities must pay a monetary fine equal to £1 per point, with all further breaches all carrying a £1 per point fine.

At the end of the financial year, the charity's point balance is reset to zero.

All the money raised through the fines system will be used to improve compliance checks, in what the PFRA says creates a "virtuous circle".

"The more people that break the rules, the more money we have for providing compliance officers to check street fundraisers are complying with the new regime," said Ian MacQuillin, PFRA head of communications.

PFRA will monitor compliance with the new roles via spot checks, as well as so-called mystery shoppers who pretend to be a member of the public and then report back.


Start Quote

True philanthropy is not gained by the quick-fix tactics of waylaying passers-by”

End Quote Marjorie Wallace SANE

Members of the public who believe the rules have been breached should complain directly to the charity in the first instance, says the PFRA.

If they feel the charity's response is unsatisfactory, the PFRA says they should then escalate their complaint by reporting it to the independent regulatory body, the Fundraising Standards Board.

"For a form of fundraising that is so regularly in the limelight, it is vitally important that fundraisers work to the highest possible standards in order to maintain the confidence of the public, media, and central and local government," says Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the PFRA.

Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, which has never used street fundraisers, welcomed the rules.

However, Ms Wallace also criticised charities who use firms that employ street fundraisers, arguing they symbolised "all that is wrong in the commercialisation of charity".

"True philanthropy is not gained by the quick-fix tactics of waylaying passers-by, but by establishing relationships with donors who know precisely what happens to their gifts and who feel a connection to the cause," added Ms Wallace.

But one small charity, the Coventy Cats Group, which relies on street collections, told BBC News that it was concerned that the new rules and spot checks may make fundraising more complex.

Trustee Angie Willems also said she was worried about the impact of not being able to stand within three metres of shop doorways.

"We never harass people to donate, but we do often need to stand somewhere that can provide some warmth or protection from the elements."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    They are annoying but I find that they don't approach you if you don't make eye contact - that's very important as it does work.
    Otherwise a curt NO THANKS does the trick.
    And if you give them your bank details then you are a complete fool.
    They are just another example of rip off Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Chuggers have targets to hit just like any other salesmen and sometimes really don't seem too keen to take no for an answer. I've been followed down the street on more than one occasion. To get rid of them it's easier to sign up then cancel the direct debit, but this actually looses the charity money as they still have to pay the chugger who has technically been successful in signing someone up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I don't understand why anyone is willing to give their bank details to a complete stranger in the street. Whenever I'm accosted in the street, or by a door-to-door collector, I tell them the same thing - I won't give my bank details to a stranger and if I want to support a charity I'll give them a meaningful donation rather than the "so small I won't notice" donation they seem to be after.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    It's the age of the internet. If I WANT to donate money to charity I can easily research the options and make a commitment from home, from work or on my phone. These people aren't providing information or opportunity to contribute. They're simply pressuring people into supporting something they don't care about.
    It should be banned entirely!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I run a small, local charity and am often contacted by companies who say that they can 'raise revenues'. Our trustees unaminously agreed never to use this method of fundraising as we believe it gives a charity a bad name and that (certainly for small charities, larger charities with employees are different) nobody should be doing charity work for personal gain.


Comments 5 of 6


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