We've all experienced that dreadful sinking feeling after spotting a gaggle of charity fund raisers on the path up ahead. Like impeccably polite mafiosos, they require a "contribution" to let you pass — and they're not afraid to use first world guilt to get it.
The next few seconds are either spent formulating a brusk excuse ("sorry, in a rush to catch a train/plane/horse!"), or sheepishly crossing the street in the hope that they wont notice (they always notice). Usually, the last thing on your mind is the charity in question — you just want to get past with the contents of your wallet intact. Simply put, people don't like being accosted for money on the street, regardless of how worthy the cause might be.
Well, it turns out that street fundraising (AKA "chugging") isn't that successful anyway; especially when it comes to signing up for regular donations. According to market research agency McNair Ingenuity Research, charities need to rethink the way they reach out to prospective doners.
While the practice of "chugging" is cost-effective from an operational standpoint, it is not the most successful way to secure contributions. Rather, a combination of raised media awareness and direct targeted approaches (such as mail campaigns) is the best way to keep donation levels high.
"Since most people are likely to donate to the charities that they know best, the first and foremost consideration is AWARENESS if you want more donors," McNair Ingenuity consultant Angela Brooks explained in an opinion piece on Mumbrella.
"In this day and age with literally thousands of different charities to support, and the average number of charities that a person donates to 3.3, there is little room to get the marketing mix wrong."
In other words, instead of swarming the streets with tins in hand, charities need to better utilise media and communication tools such as advertising, social media and public relations campaigns.
It may be that some charities are already getting the message. According to McNair Ingenuity's latest annual poll, just 66 per cent of people were approached by a "chugger" in the last year, compared to 88 per cent in 2009. Of those who were approached, only 26 per cent agreed to sign up to make a regular donation. In addition, collection tins on average receive significantly smaller donations than either door-to-door or credit card donations.
To recap, street-level fundraising has proven to be less effective than other charitable strategies and it can also cause frustration and resentment on the receiving end. Some even argue that the damage it causes to a charity's "brand" far outweighs the revenues raised. So why is it still a thing?
Do you think the world would be a better place if charities abandoned this practice altogether? Or are you of the opinion that every dollar counts, no matter how annoyingly it's acquired? Share you thoughts in the comments section below. We'd also like to hear the best excuses you've used to get past chuggers unmolested.