Chuggers: The Lowdown

A month or so ago, I was walking back to my apartment after a run. I had my headphones in, I was sweaty and my face was most likely as red as anything. I live on main road where, usually, there’s a charity collecting money for charity. So in my state of absolute lethargy, I was in no mood to talk to anyone. I wanted to go straight home and have a shower. No detours, no trips to the supermarket. Instead, as I was walking towards a set of lights to cross the road, I was stopped by a fundraiser. He had waved at me from afar, and I waved back to be polite. But as I got closer, it was clear that he was going to try and stop me. I politely took out one of my headphones and said “sorry, I have to get home” and he was taken aback. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I was a bit annoyed. Why was he so frustrated with me when I had been polite, and he had been the one interrupting my own time?

This happens on a daily basis around Australia and there is now a new term for these people: Chuggers. I personally think this is a bit harsh – these people shouldn’t be put in the same sentence as criminals. However, many citizens of Australia find them annoying and pushy. This is the new stereotype and it can actually put people off donating. Why would you want to be approached in the street, when you have somewhere to be, and be convinced to donate to a charity that you don’t really know anything about? I know some people who will actually make the decision to cross the road where fundraisers aren’t so they aren’t hassled.

I do find it annoying, but only in certain circumstances, much like the one that I outlined before. This is when it goes too far. If a person is in gym gear, is red in the face and panting, wouldn’t it just be common courtesy to let them go? It would’ve been nice to just be given a break. I understand that it’s all for a good cause (as far as we know), but I think there’s definitely a line that needs to be drawn. Or at least some realization of “oh, she’s just been for a run and is barely walking, maybe I won’t hassle her for money”.

Of course my experience is slightly temperate. I know someone who was actually chased down the street. Here, the line has clearly been crossed. People shouldn’t be forced to donate. If they want to, they’ll do it in their own time. Another example is when charities won’t take your money then and there. Instead, there’s a raffle book you have to buy or a minimum amount which you have to donate. I’m sorry, but if you don’t want the spare two dollars that I have in my wallet, then it’s very likely that I’m not going to give you anything and I especially won’t be paying the thirty dollars for your book of raffle tickets that I’ll forget to give out.

All in all, these people are fundraising for a charity that will help people and I 100% respect that. And I really don’t agree with the term “chugger”. However, when lines are crossed and there are other conditions as to how and when I can donate, I can see how fundraisers can be annoying. Maybe it’s time for charities to change their tactics?


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