Charities criticise Birmingham’s byelaw on "Chuggers."

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AccessOfficer

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Birmingham City Council’s licensing committee voted at a meeting on 17 July to develop a byelaw that would be used to stop charities deploying face-to-face fundraisers known as Chuggers in the city centre.

The council intends to use the byelaw to prevent fundraisers asking people to make a regular donation – a proactive "Ask" that has been the key to Face 2 Face’s success in recruiting more than three million new charity donors over the past 15 years.

http://www.localgov.co.uk/index.cfm?method=news.detail&id=111129

Regards
AO

Hurtyback

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I think this is a case of the charities having killed the goose that lays the golden egg. if they had not employed chuggers to dog every step of people trying to go about their own business, this bylaw might not have been introduced.

Silverstar

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Is there anything more sickening than a person being paid to collect for charity? I told one in my town centre that if he did it for free then I would make a regular donation. Funnily enough he soon got the message. 

KizzyKazaer

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AO's link is sluggish to load for some reason ...


I think this is a case of the charities having killed the goose that lays the golden egg. if they had not employed chuggers to dog every step of people trying to go about their own business, this bylaw might not have been introduced.

 >thumbsup<  No-one's ever winkled a penny out of me by 'pester power'.

Sunny Clouds

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"Is there anything more sickening than a person being paid to collect for charity?"

I don't find it sickening.  What else do you want people to do for free for charities?  HR?  Cleaning?  Estates management?  Payroll and accounts? 

I think a lot of people misunderstand what charities are.  Being a charity is about providing funding and/or services addressing a limited range of needs and in exchange getting tax relief.

Trustees of charities can't be paid for their time, and it is common for charities that provide services to have people volunteering to provide some or all of them, but charities are not obliged to rely on unpaid labour.

Charities have to be audited.  Some auditors do some pro bono work, but generally the auditing has to be paid for.  Why is it ok for the auditors to be paid but not the fundraisers?  What is it about the job of fundraising that means you shouldn't be paid for it?

I have done a lot of work for charities.  I have been trustee, director, founder, employee, volunteer etc.  I have seen charities from the top and the bottom and in between.  I have seen them from a paid and unpaid perspective.  I'm all in favour of charities making the best use possible of people's goodwill, but I don't believe in exploiting people.

I am, for example, a trustee and director of a charity with a multimillion pound annual income and over a hundred people on our payroll.  Some of those people would be simply on the dole in an area of shockingly high unemployment if we didn't provide work. 

When it comes to the issue of paying fundraisers, my take on that is that it's a perception of it being the same as someone who from time to time 'rattles a can'.  But this isn't what chuggers are, they are workers depending on employment.

You could say that charities shouldn't get money that way, but they wouldn't do it if it didn't bring in an income.  It's the same as contracts for public services.  Some people object to charities doing it because it compromises them.  But charities cannot be primarily political campaigning organisations or by definition they are not charities and the Charity Commission will make that clear.  However, if you turn it round, if you're having a public service provided, why not have it provided by an organisation that isn't run for profit and that has to stick to fairly narrowly defined aims in relation to the public good?

I know I rant about this every time the subject of charities comes up, but I really do believe that most people don't understand what defines a charity.  It's a particular form of tax device dating back to Elizabeth I and forming part of a more general tax device called a trust going back to Henry VIII based on something called a use going back to the time of the crusaders.  Both trusts and uses were about tax avoidance, initially avoidance of death taxes.

Charities can't do a range of things such as paying dividends and they have to fall into one of a number of categories of public good, but they don't have to rely on people working for free instead of being paid an honest wage.

As a charity trustee and director, I object in the strongest possible terms to the exploitation of workers.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Silverstar

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We will have to disagree on this one, I find the idea of people getting paid to bug, harass and annoy people sickening, they will not take no for an answer and should be banned IMO. What happened to people collecting in the street, for free? And if you give a total stranger your private bank details in the street then you are a fool.

You used to be able to give when you wanted and how much, but that is not enough anymore. Now they want your bank details so that the £3 a month you signed up for is not longer good enough. Now they will pester you on the phone or by post, urging you to pay more and more. This happened to my dad before he died, this international charity hassling an elderly, sick and vulnerable man. Even when they were repeatedly told to stop. I will never forgive them for hounding my dad in his last months.

How much more money could be raised for the actual cause if they didn't have to pay over inflated salaries for directors, boards and CEO's. If you donate say £10 how much is swallowed up in salaries, admin and advertising and other costs. How much actually reaches it's destination?

I no longer support national charities because of their greed and relentless appetite for money. Chuggers  have done nothing to enhance the reputation of many charities, they are a plague and my council seems to have banned them thankfully. I now only give to local charities that are exactly that and not businesses which is what many large national charities have become. Local charities with volunteers and no salaried directors and certainly no Chuggers working on commission. .

Silverstar

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society.guardian.co.uk/salarysurvey/table/0,12406. How much just some of the directors of national charities are earning.

Silverstar

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Salary survey: charity chief executives' pay sorted ...
Charity: Chief executive: Latest salary in £s ... This means that figures in this table do not necessarily relate to the same calendar or financial year.
society.guardian.co.uk/salarysurvey/table/0,12406... - Cached

Silverstar

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The excessive City pay culture is seeping into the remuneration packages of charity bosses and should be curbed, Unite, the largest union in the country, has warned.

Unite, which has 60,000 members in the not for profit sector, is concerned that some chief executives are earning more than the Prime Minister's annual salary of £197,000.

And while chief executive pay soars at a rate of 6% a year, many charity workers are struggling with wages just above the National Minimum Wage (NMW) of £5.80 an hour.

Unite is calling for charities to look closely at the rates of pay of all their employees and to iron out inequalities.

Unite favours flat pay increases for everyone, rather than percentage rises, as this would benefit the lower paid.

Unite is concerned that the growing pay inequalities are a symptom of a 'greed culture' across the economy, and would like the proposal for a High Pay Commission to be set up quickly to radically tackle this trend, which is leading to fissures in society.

Unite highlighted the pay of Anchor Trust's Chief Executive, John Belcher, whose pay was £391,000 in 2008/09, while many of his employees, running homes for the elderly, are living on wages just above the NMW. Mr Belcher resigned from his post last week.

Other examples of 'excess' include:

• Riverside Housing Group's highest paid director received (emoluments excluding pension contributions) £231,000 in 2008
• UK Film Council's Chief Executive Officer received between £205,000 and £210,000 in 2008
• The National Trust in 2009 paid between £160,000 and £169,999 to a top member of staff
• In 2008, Age Concern paid a senior staff member between £100,001 and £120,000
• The RSPB in 2008 rewarded a staff member with emoluments between £100,001 and £110,000.

Rachael Maskell, Unite National Officer, not-for-profit sector, said: 'It is quite clear that the insidious City culture of excessive pay is seeping into the packages of some not for profit sector chief executives.

'This is to be deplored as it corrupts the ethos of the voluntary sector and is an insult to those, often on average incomes, who donate to charity. I think the general public will be shocked by the scale of the packages that some executives are being awarded. This sector is losing its sense of what real value is.

'It has also contributed to great and unfair disparities between the pay of the chief executives and top directors, and other members of staff, as this is being replicated across other sectors of society.

'It is not right that a charity boss earns much more than the Prime Minister. Flat pay increases of a set amount should be introduced, instead of percentage rises, as this would reduce pay disparities, which is hitting, in particular, women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and part-time workers.'

Mabelcat

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I think there are two separate issues here: whether charities should have paid staff and how those staff behave.  My objection to some chuggers I have met is that they are persistent to the point of harassment sometimes which is really annoying.  On the other hand most of them are young people who are desperate to earn a living.

I used to live in Oxford and knew several people who worked for Oxfam - they all worked really hard and contributed to the economy through taxes and their expenditure and often did voluntary fundraising in addition to their paid work.

Sunny Clouds

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I don't know why people assume that work for charities has to be all voluntary or rock bottom pay.  Some CEOs are probably paid too much, but they're not exactly representative, are they?  Take a look how many charities there are.  You could pay fat salaries to the CEOs of several dozen big charities and it would be a drop in the ocean.  It wouldn't be a reason to tarnish all charities or not to pay people at the bottom of the stack.

As Mabelcat says, how fundraisers behave and whether they should be paid are two entirely different things.

For those that think that fundraisers shouldn't be paid, I'll ask you this - are you prepared to go out and do it as a full-time job without being paid? If you are, get in touch with a charity using a paid fundraiser and offer your services, but you might also want to apologise to the person you've just made redundant who will now be on JSA.  I do hope you'll make sure you don't just offer your services, volunteer for a few weeks then drop out. 

I've done fundraising on both a paid and an unpaid basis.

Let me give you an example.  I worked for a while for a charity which paid me under £20,000 pa.  Whilst doing other work, I worked with colleagues to pull in about £4million funding from the EU.  I'd estimate the amount of my time attributable to this to be about £4,000 inclusive of overheads.  So 0.1% of the funds drawn in were paid towards my salary. 

So in the abstract, there are those who say people who fundraise shouldn't be paid, but this charity would say that it was a small price to pay.

The ratio of pay to funding brought in by fundraisers such as chuggers is very different, but charities wouldn't pay them if it weren't cost-effective.  The bottom line is that if they could do it more cheaply, they would.  They use all sorts of methods and they keep using the ones that work.

I think that chugging will die out pretty soon, but I don't think that paying people a wage to do a job will die out.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Hurtyback

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Thank you for making that distinction, Mabelcat  >thumbsup< .


I think the labourer is worthy of his hire. It is not 'charitable' to expect anyone to work for free (or very little). Charities benefit from the efforts of the people who work for them, it would be a pity if they were made to use only those who could afford to be there for nothing, irrespective of whether they have the right skills for the job.


It is a matter of personal preference whether one would rather support a big charity that rewards employees handsomely, employs fundraising experts and brings in lots of money, or one that operates on voluntary labour and brings in smaller amounts.


Yes, 'chuggers' are paid, but that is not what makes them such a nuisance - that is down to their 'hard sell' tactics etc. Maybe if the chuggers were paid a fixed wage, rather than commission (which is what I suspect is happening) they would be less 'in your face'. However, the charity would probably have less income for more outlay, which would not be good use of their money!


I appreciate that I have probably just argues for both sides, that goes to show that I don't think it is an easy question!  >lol<



Silverstar

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I also wonder if people knew how much of their money was actually swallowed up by pay, admin, advertising and other expenses would it be harder to get them to contribute? Charities are not businesses and should not be run like them. Money has corrupted and ruined so many aspects of modern life, like sport, business etc.

Greed is seen as some sort of golden calf, to be worshipped. Maybe if CEO or directors pay had to be published and people knew exactly what percentage of their money would actually get to the people or cause it is intended for there would be much greater transparency. I am not against paying people for their time and expertise but these are charities and should not be seen in the same light as for profit companies. Nor should directors and CEO's expect the same pay as their counterparts in business.

Charities have no product to sell and it is not the same as where you pay money and get a product or service in return. People are giving to charity and getting nothing in return, other than the knowledge they are helping someone or something, which is it's own reward. So CEO pay should reflect this. It is obscene what some of these people are getting paid and I am sure there would be an outcry if people truly knew how much some of these people are earning. They are expecting donations from people who maybe disabled themselves, unemployed, elderly or on a low income. Then they should lead by example and be paid a reasonable but not excessive wage.

When you see a starving child, disabled person or abused animals and it moves you to want to donate, to try and make a difference, you do not assume your £10 one off donation or your £3.00 a month is going to be almost swallowed up by charity expenses, before it has even reached the intended recipient. This is why I think much greater openness and transparency is required. So people can make an informed choice.

A few years ago the Guide Dogs charity was one of the richest in the country and there was uproar when it was revealed how many millions they had in the bank and how in fact they were only using the interest, and not the capital for puppies to be trained. The millions were sitting in the bank unused. The following week they were back to campaigning for donations. 

Chuggers have proved to be a failure, because now they are banned or severely limited in most towns and cities. Few people took exception to collection tins being thrust under their noses and a polite no would suffice. Chuggers, with their aggressive and often rude refusal to take a hike have done a grave disservice to the many worthy causes in this country and I think are responsible for many people refusing to donate to charity. Because they are so hated. So I must disagree that they have been successful. I agree with Hurty, remove commissions and let chuggers be paid a set rate. That would remove many of the problems associated with them and they should also accept that no means no.   

Hurtyback

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Silverstar, those figures are in the public domain and freely available. Try this for starters http://www.charitynavigator.org/

Silverstar

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Are they American or British charities because I found it extremely hard to find any actual figures. The table I found in the Guardian, the link which would not work, was from2003 and even back then several big charities were paying well in excess of £100k.

It seems charities are rather cagey about detailing these sorts of information. I did hear the CEO of the pdsa gets over £190k which angers me as I do donate to them as my cat gets treatment from the pdsa.