I spend some time on TV and radio defending street canvassing, because if done properly and sensitively it is another very appropriate fundraising practice that helps charities reach younger potential supporters. Many people however talk about how guilty they feel saying no. When Ian MacQuillan sent me this article, by Julian Baggini I knew I had to comment on his verbalisation of what I think a lot of people will recognise when they encounter a canvasser. The full article is in a magazine called Heaver and whilst I don't agree with everything he says I think the sentiment is spot on. That's why I'm electing Julian an honorary member of the association!
Julian writes that, "bitter experience having taught you to be alert to their presence, you spot one in your path as you approach. What to do? Pretend you haven't seen anything? Keep your gaze fixed ahead and avoid any distraction? Try to appease the monster? Whatever you choose, you know the one thing you must not do under any circumstances is stop. Once they've demobilised you, there is no way out that isn't ugly."
He's talking, of course, about what many call chuggers and he reckons they are somewhat dishonest in that for examply, "they have numerous plays designed to make you stop, from complementing you on your scarf to asking whether you've ever met a Nobel prize winner." He elaborates further and goes on to say that secondly he finds that,
"their euphoric, joyful enthusiasm isn't natural. Or at least, it certainly isn't British. Spending a whole day in the often rain outdoors being dodged by people is not fun. So these people are either massive fakers, on heavy medication, insane, or some combination of the above". And he doesn't stop there going on to add that he resents being made to feel guilty! He adds, "I resent being made to feel bad when I'm sure I'm more conscientious about my charitable giving than most of the saps who stop. It should be more virtuous to give under no pressure from the privacy of your own home. But it is those who stop who look kind and those who walk by who look mean. It feels as though we are being judged by how we respond to chuggers when that is no the benchmark of philanthropy at all."
However the punchline is, rightly saved until the end where delivering his "coup de grace" he says, movingly,
"But the truth is, I should feel bad, and that's why I hate them. I hate them for reminding me that, even if I do already give money to charity, it is not enough. There are numerous good causes, all of which deserve my cash or time and while I can't give to all of them, I can and should give more to more of them. I hate them for interrupting my healthy, lovely day with thoughts about disease, death and suffering. I hate them because they remind me that relying on the milk of human kindness is not enough. Chuggers exist because they work, and that means they are plenty of people who just would not give as much as they do if it weren't for chirpy youths accosting them on the street. And I hate them for reminding me that I'm a miserable misanthropic sod who can so easily hate people who are only trying to earn a living in some kind of meaningful purposeful way. In short, I hate them for reminding me of all that is bad in the world when reminding is just what we all need in order to make it better."
Thank you Julian I couldn't have put it better myself! Do you agree or think we're both barking?
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Monday, 14 May 2012
As I blogged last week, it is extraordinary that 80,000 have given more than £1.1m (including gift aid) to Samaritans (no indefinite article I'm told). The article in the Guardian comments on the importance of who makes the ask as opposed to the case for support, the cause or other such factors. There will be a strong "giving in memoriam" element as a trigger. In my experience giving, in memory of a loved one, parent, partner or child, is one of the most powerful triggers for a gift. It is why some people start charities and why tribute giving is such an important area that, if charities realised it, could be harnessed to much greater effect. Currently charities tend to wait until after someone has died and then, in response to "in memoriam" or "gifts in lieu of flowers" suggest tentitatively that perhaps the givers and the family would like the charity to set up a fund in memory of the loved. Of course, handled sensitively, with an appropriate involvement device it works really, really well. So why stop there? Just as some people buy a little bit of immortality with pledges and legacies why could we not actively suggest, to those most likely to like the idea (research, research, research)the concept of gifts beyond the final legacy? Perhaps it's a step too far. However remember that talking about a "gift in your will" was thought to be insensitive and now is a routine part of legacy development. So, those minded to involve the family in the decision process (and many do) might be persuaded to continue the fundraising beyond the original giver's death. Just a thought?