Aggressive Charity Fundraising

Published: 19/10/2015

Private companies being  paid to fundraise on behalf of charities are increasingly using tactics which are almost aggressive to try to persuade people to part with their money. 

If you are out and about shopping, you may well have been accosted by “chuggers” (short for charity muggers).  Their goal is to get you to sign up to make a regular monthly payment to the charity by direct debit.  It is important to remember that:
  1. If you do get talked into signing up, but you do not really want to make the monthly payments, you have 14 days in which to cancel the whole agreement.The paperwork you are given when you sign up will tell you how to do this.
  2. You can cancel the payments at any time anyway.It is not like a contract to buy furniture, say, because you are not being given anything in return for your money.
  3. The chuggers are not employed directly by the charity, and part of what you pay will go to the company that employs them.If you do want to give money to a particular charity, find them online or by phoning their local charity shop, and make your payment direct.
  4. If anyone is trying to sign you up to a raffle or lottery, the law only requires 20% of the proceeds to go to the charity.
The above advice also goes for people contacting you by phone and letter.
The companies paid to do this work sell your details on to other, similar, organisations.  In some cases, the charities themselves sell on lists of their supporters.  It can seem overwhelming to receive so many requests for money, all including heart-rending stories of people or animals in dreadful plights, but you cannot help everybody. 
The government is in talks with the charities to try to resolve this problem, which is causing immense distress, particularly to vulnerable people. In the meantime, we advise that you tell callers not to phone you again, and register for the Telephone Preference Service at  or by phoning them on 0845 703 4599, and Mailing Preference Service online at, or by phoning  0845 703 4599. 
It takes a few months for the calls and letters to dry up.  For the time being, we strongly suggest that you put the begging letters straight into the recycling without reading them.