Chugging rises to the top again

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Like something nasty floating in a pond chugging has bobbed to the surface again.

Apparently Islington Council in London are taking legal advice as to whether they can stop it happening on their streets.

The Guardian newspaper conducted a poll on the back of this story in a section predominantly read by people involved in the Charity sector. It asked “Are Chuggers giving Charities a bad name?”. 54.3% of the respondents said yes , whilst 45.7% said no.

This response really depresses me as the 45.7% clearly still in favour of charity mugging obviously have no concept of the notion of reputation. In the face of a real issue forcing a Council to seek legal advice over stopping chuggers on its streets almost half of the respondents (most of whom remember are involved in the charity sector in some way) there are still people in denial that chugging is having a negative effect on the way charities are seen.

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Delivering good works isn’t the only thing a charity is judged on – the way in interacts with potential funders, volunteers or supporters is also a factor in the development of their reputation. To ignore the negative impact of chugging, not just on individual charities using it , but on the sector as a whole is to ignore the value of reputation far beyond its impact on income generation.

Chugging : short term fix – long term damage?

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We’ve all been there – walking along the High Street when we see a Tabarded individual hovering waiting to pounce as we pass, ready to ask us to support “their” cause.

Chuggers – or “Street Fundraisers” have become a fixture of our towns in recent years, and their abundant presence is an indication that Charities clearly believe they are cost effective.

The fact they are raising much needed funds in the short term however obscures the reputational damage they are doing not just to the charities using them but to the sector as a whole in the longer term.

The approach taken by some chuggers, and perceived by most people on the High Street to be the norm for this type of fundraising, is starting to damage the reputation of both individual charities and the sector as a whole.

Here are some of the recent press cuttings on the subject…

How has the sector put itself in this position? The financial pressures are certainly at the root, but from there we have to look at how Charities then go about tackling their funding shortages. For many it means specialist fundraising teams – all well and good, there are some fantastic fundraising specialists out there. But the problem emerges in organisations where the fundraising function is either separated from the PR function, or worse, placed above the PR function organisationally.

Fundraisers work in hard cash – PR works in the currency of reputation. With this comes a mindset.

Each should work hand in glove with the other if funds and supporters are to be found and the reputation of the charity is to grow. It just doesn’t always happen like that.

I’ve seen at first hand what happens when fundraisers work in isolation from the PR function – yes quick income is identified and brought in, but in the longer term the legacy is one of disillusioned supporters, a muddling of the public’s perception of the values and ethos of the organisation, and a degrading of the reputational stock of the charity.

There is an understanding between the public and the charity sector – it says that people will give of their own accord if they are persuaded that a charity  is worthy. The reputation of the body seeking their support is key to that decision.

Chugging on the High Street is in danger of killing the Golden Goose, as the damage done to the reputation of the Charity sector turns individuals away from  giving because they fear the high pressure tactics the sector is becoming assocuated with.

It’s time for someone to say “Yes it is bringing in cash, but in the longer term this method isn’t doing our reputation any good, and our reputation is the one asset we cannot afford to lose.”