I don’t know if I could ever have been called a ‘campaigner’ against chugging, but for a short while a few years ago I did find myself occasionally commenting on one of the scourges of modern life. But having failed to make any real difference—the industry lobbying group relied on their right to be annoying and my attempts at lobbying ministers came to nothing—I retired from activism to return to being a mere disgruntled pedestrian like everyone else.
Despite that I do watch the news on chugging so found the nfpSynergy report, informatively headlined Doorstep and telephone fundraising very annoying for the public interesting even if it didn’t say anything I didn’t already know. Apparently over half of all people are annoyed at being disturbed at home, and over a third dislike being hassled on the street.
nfpSynergy, along with their non-traditional use of capital letters, have a “Driver of Ideas” who commented “fundraising must be to maximise the money raised and minimise the aggravation it causes. This data gives a good indication that we are not winning this battle.” However, the BBC News website’s coverage of the report suggested this lesson isn’t being learned, quoting a former call centre worker:
I had to phone people, give them a sob story, make them feel guilty and get their money. The company rule was that we had to hear them clearly say no three times before we should stop. If someone just hung up on us or was angry or upset, we were told to keep calling them back.
It’s obviously only one person, and I have no idea what his story is, but I have always suspected that the biggest problem (aside from the fact that very few formally complain, and therefore the industry thinks everything is hunky-dory) is that charities appoint agencies that are, effectively, charity mercenaries motivated far more by money than they are by the charity’s reputation.