They’re on the city’s street corners every day and they’re quite likely to stop you and ask you for money.
The approach is used increasingly in New Zealand, raising millions of dollars for charities each year and reaching hundreds of individuals every day.
However, face-to-face fundraising has earned a negative reputation, with the media commonly referring to paid fundraisers as chuggers , or charity muggers, due to their sometimes overly aggressive behaviour.
Charities often choose to outsource their face-to-face campaigns to professional fundraising organisations which can charge a fee of up to 80 per cent of donations from the first year.
Face-to-face campaigns are cost-effective for charities that are hoping donors will commit to their donations long-term.
Liz Phillips, communications manager for the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, says donors give for an average of four or five years.
The regular donations provide the financial stability required to commit to large campaigns.
“Face-to-face is still our most effective fundraising method. Our face-to-face fundraisers speak to literally hundreds of people a day, allowing us to educate the public about the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ regardless of whether or not they decide to support us financially,” says Ms Phillips.
But problems arise when people are registered as donors under unfair pressure and have no intention of continuing their donations long-term.
If donors stop their donations within a year, they are only covering the profressional fundraising organisation’s service fee and costing the charity rather than helping the cause.
In June 2012 the Fair Trading (soliciting on behalf of charities) Amendment bill was passed, meaning street fundraisers now have to disclose how much of the money they raise is kept by the fundraising organisation and not passed on to the charity.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is responsible for maintaining standards of face-to-face campaigns in New Zealand with a strict code of conduct.
Failure to comply with its standards can result in penalties, which “range from fines to complete standdown from fundraising on the streets,” says Karen Ward, general manager of the PFRA.
More than 63,000 people signed up to a regular giving campaign via face-to-face fundraising last year and around $36 million was received by charities in 2012, says Ms Ward.
Anyone who feels a fundraiser’s behaviour is inappropriate should take down their details and report them to the PFRA, she says.