Feeling charitable? Avoid the chuggers and their clipboards
Money may be a little thin on the ground this Christmas, but it won't stop the television screens filling up with doe-eyed children in need of just £2 a month from you to change their world. Them, and the charity workers in primary-coloured jackets who hijack your lunchtime stroll with their clipboards and stories of woe. By the way, they all know you're only pretending to take a call when you walk past.
That's not really strictly fair, because there are plenty of legitimate and very worthy charities out there, but at this time of year there are more than a few who'll abuse the spirit of the season and guilt you into parting with your money. And there's nothing worse than "chuggers" - charity muggers - those folks who doorstep you in the middle of the street on behalf of whatever charity they're been paid by. If you've ever managed to walk further than 100 metres down Oxford Street before been ambushed, I believe you win a prize of some sort. Charities may feel this is a worthwhile way to raise funds, but it leaves me with a similar level of respect for these people and their charities as I have for waiters who do the same outside restaurants in the Costa Brava. It's harassment, pure and simple.
An interesting piece of research popped up on Intelligent Giving recently, which received plenty of coverage in the national press. It seems that not only do chuggers tell more than a few fibs to get your signature on the Direct Debit form, they don't always know which charity they're representing. You can read the confessions of a chugger here; not surprisingly, agencies like hiring out-of-work actors for their "outgoing" (read "maniacally irritating") personalities. Gah.
If you want to give some of your hard earned coin to a good cause this Christmas, it's worth doing a little research first. Intelligent Giving is a great place to start; you can look up specific charities or use their Charity chooser to find one that fits you like a snug jumper. There's also advice on the smartest ways to donate so you can give direct and avoid the street menaces.