Big Issue vendors vs the charity “chuggers”

Posted on February 25, 2012


Do you ever feel like people are always asking for money and that more often than not they rely upon emotional blackmail and “guilt tripping” to secure your funds, especially by charity muggers “chuggers” (more on them later).

I was walking down Argyle street just the other day. On this particular occasion I didn’t bring my wallet because believe or not I am a person and not the “consumptionatron” the economy needs me to be.

I surreptitiously evaded the Big Issue vendor on the corner, after avoiding eye contact I then felt the need to mumble something along the lines of “cannae mate”.

CHARITY: The vendor buys the Issue for £1.25 and sells it for £2.50

Inevitably, I  immediately felt decimated by guilt and was about to tell him I would purchase one later, until he said: “Thanks, god bless your soul”.

My guilt melted instantly. To me, the mentioning of my soul may have been an attempt to cast an ancient gypsy curse on my soul… or perhaps he just wanted to fuck my day. Either way, he went too far.

I am not to blame for the situation this man finds himself in, nor should I feel obligated to give him anything. I felt sorry for him and I buy the Big Issue when I can, it is a good cause and a decent magazine. But this time, I decided to take his sarcastic thank you literally and retorted: “you’re welcome mate and cheers for the blessing”.

Petty? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Worth doing? Completely. One of the world’s worst comebacks? definitely.

Looking like I was, with unkempt curly hair, unshaven face, haggard jacket, ripped jeans and threadbare converse with female antiperspirant keeping away the nasty sweat smells, the vendor showed extreme naivety if he truly thought I could give him anything other than leprosy and a black eye.

By this point, naturally, I was not feeling very charitable, I was quite happy to put this episode of my life to sleep. I continued to the shopping area of the main street, this is where my blood ran cold, things got worse, quick.

The charity muggers were out in force. There were around 20 of them. Every avenue of the street was covered and I could see some of the more out-going chuggers chasing, yes chasing, an elderly women who was wearing either an old poncho or a potato-sack, either way she was no “big spender”. This elderly woman was the diversion I needed to slip through the fray untarnished.

Gordon Matheson, city council leader, said: “The issue of street fundraisers is a source of annoyance to many shoppers and visitors.”

CHUGGER’S IN THE WAY: A chugger blockade can resembles a football team’s formation

Charity muggers otherwise known as “chuggers” (no joke) are those charismatic, snake tongued, serpentine, door-to-door salesman types who take a strategic position on the street and harass passers-by for money.

“The issue of street fundraisers is a source of annoyance to many shoppers and visitors.”

AND before you say, “It’s for a good cause” listen to what I have to say.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY: Everyone has dreaded this scene at one point

Chuggers are not volunteers. They are recruited by independent companies and often have no affiliation to the charities they supposedly work for, their job is to annoy and extort you.

The recruiters often wear tabards prominently displaying the name of the charity – but these fundraisers are actually working for subcontracted companies

For the first and last time in my life I feel the need to say read the Daily Mail. Their article about chuggers is really informative.

read it here

The British Heart Foundation pays the equivalent of £136 per signature gained whereas Cancer Research UK said it paid an average of £112 to recruit each donor. These fees are massive and equal to around the first year of any direct debit arrangement.

For a whole year none of your money goes to charity at all, but instead puts money in the coffers of the independent collection companies that take great pride in making you feel bad at any given chance.

The dictionary definition of charity is as follows: generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. It isn’t charity if the donation is warped into an extortion by a chugger with an agenda.

Before you call me a scrooge or something all the more offensive, I am pro-charity, I think this country’s society has a fundamental flaw in the fact the the wealth is so poorly distributed, after all, Scotland boasts some of western Europe’s highest poverty rates and charity will not so much fix the problem as “plug the hole in the dam”. We should treat chuggers with apathy, ignore them, deny them your money, however, you should give your money to fund-raisers. Yes, they are different things.

The difference between a chugger and a fund-raiser is that a fund-raiser volunteers his/her time and/or services. These stalwart people aren’t paying their wages with your donations and, importantly, they actually have a connection with the charity they are championing. They are less likely to gang up on you on the high street and at the end of the day, what they are doing seems less mercenary and more selfless. People are more likely to be charitable if a fund-raiser is giving up their time. Charity breeds charity.

How can a chugger possibly call anyone selfish or tight-fisted? I understand that people have to make a living but it is such a despicable trade, one that capitalises upon money supposed to be going to a good cause.


When I reached my destination I finally realised that if I was going give money to anyone, I would give it to the cheeky Big Issue guy over any clean shaven, charismatic stalker working for a shadowy company with way-too-big profit margins to be ethically associated with a charity, especially Britain’s largest.