Charity Disparity

One of the best traits of the British character is our willingness to do our bit for charitable causes. Comic Relief, Children In Need and Live Aid are just a few household names in entertainment-based fundraising. Many retailers display collection tins on the counter and sometimes offer daffodils, poppies, wristbands or other adornments which enable us to display our charitable allegiances.

However, in recent years, the traditional forms of fundraising such as the lady rattling a collection jar and the sponsored silence are being taken over by more calculated methods.

The last decade or so has seen the introduction of the term ‘charity mugger’ (often shortened to ‘chugger’), to refer to those colourfully-tabarded youngsters who leap out at you on the high street or at an event to persuade you into signing up for regular payments. Single cash donations are not accepted, all they want is your personal details and a direct debit arrangement. The spontaneous and unsolicited nature of mugging is experienced by the donor in this scenario, but the financial hit that isn’t dwelled upon is faced by the beneficiary charity. All the parading and hectoring done by the chuggers is paid for out of your donations.

One excellent modern way to donate a set amount to a cause is by text message. We’ve all seen the adverts, a charity asks to send a text message to a premium rate number, and that premium is used as your donation. However, it appears increasingly impossible to just make a donation and get on with ones life.

This morning I responded to an Oxfam appeal by donating £5 by text message. Half an hour later (on a Sunday, I ask you) I was phoned up by a company, ostensibly requesting my details for Gift Aid; but in fact wanting to ask me why I donated, read a script about what Oxfam do, and ask for my email address so they can send me more info. This in effect turns a simple way of donating into a drawn out affair that may discourage me from doing so in the future. I had to interrupt the caller and declare that I didn’t need to know about how important the charity is, I just needed him to skip to the part where my donation becomes Gift Aided. Oxfam could have included a link in the confirmation text message which would have covered the Gift Aid details, so I must assume that my personal details are useful to this company in some other way.

My recent donation to Water Aid, on the other hand, was a simple affair. Go to a web site, pay via PayPal and fill in details for Gift Aid if you wish.

Sadly, I now know that if I make a text donation again, I face getting the third degree from a company whose trade involves exploiting the good nature of donors whilst risking the reputation of the charities.

Roll on November so I can just put a pound in a box and wear a Poppy without signing up to have my personal details pimped out.

Posted in Never Mind the Politics, The Customer is Always Right.

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