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Charity collectors – good samaritans or a public menace?

By Alexandra Craig 23 September 2014 41

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We’ve all been there; walking around your local shopping mall when you spot a charity stall in the distance. You change your route if it’s not too late, but if you get caught out at the last minute you’ll probably reach for your phone and attempt to distract yourself from making eye contact with the person manning the stall. Even if you’re clearly occupied, they’re still quite likely to call out to you. Charity collectors using clever tactics and sometimes just being incredibly rude in their quests to squeeze money out of passers by.

I should provide a disclaimer to this yarn, I’m not against charity or charity stalls. I’m against the way some of the employees at these stalls conduct themselves. I donate regularly to a handful of my favourite charities, usually through one-off online donations.

A heavily pregnant friend was recently doing a dash to the shops at the end of the day; in tow was her toddler son. She was exhausted, as you can expect most heavily pregnant women are. As she passed an Oxfam stall, the employee called out to her “you look very drained!” Obviously this was an attempt to get her attention so she’d stop and hopefully donate, but rudeness is not the way to solicit interest.

Last Friday night I was at the Canberra Centre with my partner. We walked past a Starlight Foundation stall and when the employee called out to us we called back with a polite “Not today, sorry.” The employee called back out “What, you don’t care about sick kids?!” What warrants this kind of behaviour? We were polite to him, and he guilt tripped us in return. In what world would someone stop after being treated like dirt to present a donation? I definitely wouldn’t, and I didn’t.

I’ve noticed that a lot of these stalls are no longer accepting cash donations. They want a credit card number and ask you to sign up for monthly donations. I don’t like doing this because I hate the idea of having too many direct debits coming out of my account and losing track of them all. I suspect I am not alone. For many people, some months are much tighter than others and if they can’t cancel the debit in time, they’ll be out of pocket before they know it.

Many organisations are also suggesting a minimum donation amount. I recently heard an example of a young woman who told a Heart Foundation employee that she could really only afford $10, only to have the employee turn around and say that they would need at least $30 if she really cared. Again, this goes back to the sheer pushy behaviour of some employees, but the issue remains – they are looking for regular donations at a set amount.

If I was a charity, I like to think that I would be happy to take whatever I could get, even if it was just $10 or a handful of silver coins thrown into a bucket. However, the costs of running a charity are increasing and perhaps charities can no longer rely on volunteers to staff these booths and have to employ paid staff instead? At what price does this come? They hassle people and in some cases they’re incredibly rude to passers by, guaranteeing a donation of exactly zero dollars. If anyone can shed some light on costs of running stalls versus donations received per day, please share your insights.


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41 Responses to
Charity collectors – good samaritans or a public menace?
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dungfungus 4:43 pm 27 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

It’s good to be healthy and not seek medical assistance at an Australian hospital emergency department when nothing else is availbale. My experiences tell me the system can’t cope and reports in the CT recently support that.
Also, I am aware that some drugs are “rationed” in favour of using cheaper less powerful ones which is false economy because the patient usually has to stay longer in recovery.

As pointed out above, universal healthcare such as Australia’s costs half as much as the US “system” and gets much better results.

Read this article, Dungfungus, it will assist you in making contributions to public discussion that are more in tune with reality:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2012/03/01/why-are-u-s-health-care-costs-so-high/

I do worry where you get your ideas from, Dungfungus, seeing as they are consistently so very wrong. Why not try new sources, reliable sources?

Quote from a very recent article in The Conversation about the state of health care in Australia. It’s not only about money you know:

“Alarmingly, Health Workforce Australia has predicted a shortage of 80,000 registered nurses by 2025.
At the same time, government budgets are under severe strain and hospital expenditure is growing faster than any other area. If we don’t increase hospital efficiency now, we could be stuck with much tougher decisions in the future, such as deciding who should go without care.”

HenryBG 12:46 pm 27 Sep 14

dungfungus said :

It’s good to be healthy and not seek medical assistance at an Australian hospital emergency department when nothing else is availbale. My experiences tell me the system can’t cope and reports in the CT recently support that.
Also, I am aware that some drugs are “rationed” in favour of using cheaper less powerful ones which is false economy because the patient usually has to stay longer in recovery.

As pointed out above, universal healthcare such as Australia’s costs half as much as the US “system” and gets much better results.

Read this article, Dungfungus, it will assist you in making contributions to public discussion that are more in tune with reality:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2012/03/01/why-are-u-s-health-care-costs-so-high/

I do worry where you get your ideas from, Dungfungus, seeing as they are consistently so very wrong. Why not try new sources, reliable sources?

dungfungus 7:44 am 27 Sep 14

Minz said :

dungfungus said :

Our “universal healthcare system”, which a lot of Australians do not contribute to, is on the verge of collapse.

Presumably you mean our universal healthcare system which gets better overall results than the US, but costs approximately half as much as US healthcare? If state and federal governments weren’t trying so hard to bring it down (to the benefit of nobody but big business), it probably wouldn’t be in such an apparently parlous state.

Then again, I guess the US healthcare system can’t be near collapse because it’s not really a system, per se.

It’s good to be healthy and not seek medical assistance at an Australian hospital emergency department when nothing else is availbale. My experiences tell me the system can’t cope and reports in the CT recently support that.
Also, I am aware that some drugs are “rationed” in favour of using cheaper less powerful ones which is false economy because the patient usually has to stay longer in recovery.

dungfungus 7:38 am 27 Sep 14

nazasaurus said :

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

braddonmonsta said :

Most studies (e.g. http://www.petrefoundation.org.au/docs/Wealthy_Aussies_000.pdf) will show you that we are wayyy behind the 8 ball when it comes to philanthropy. As a % of GNP, we give just one quarter of what Americans give. CF: http://www.smh.com.au/business/philanthropy-is-big-business–except-in-corporate-australia-20110603-1fktm.html

Personally I think it’s good that people are bullied into opening their wallets.

The difference between here and America is that here we pay taxes, and here our taxes actually go towards providing welfare and housing for the less fortunate.

We don’t need to make individual decisions to give money away because we have an institutionalised system to do it for us, in the form of our taxation system.

Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system.

“Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system”
That is why there are more unemployed in Australia than there are in the USA.
Our “universal healthcare system”, which a lot of Australians do not contribute to, is on the verge of collapse.

Australians don’t want Australia to become like America and that means keeping our universal healthcare and decent wages. Also, health spending is not growing at an unsustainable rate, nor is it on the verge of collapse. If you read AIHW Reports around this you can see growth is modest and smaller than it was in the 1980s.

I missed that poll/referendum about Australians not wanting to become like America.
Can you supply a link where I can analyse the questions and results, please?

nazasaurus 10:38 pm 26 Sep 14

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

braddonmonsta said :

Most studies (e.g. http://www.petrefoundation.org.au/docs/Wealthy_Aussies_000.pdf) will show you that we are wayyy behind the 8 ball when it comes to philanthropy. As a % of GNP, we give just one quarter of what Americans give. CF: http://www.smh.com.au/business/philanthropy-is-big-business–except-in-corporate-australia-20110603-1fktm.html

Personally I think it’s good that people are bullied into opening their wallets.

The difference between here and America is that here we pay taxes, and here our taxes actually go towards providing welfare and housing for the less fortunate.

We don’t need to make individual decisions to give money away because we have an institutionalised system to do it for us, in the form of our taxation system.

Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system.

“Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system”
That is why there are more unemployed in Australia than there are in the USA.
Our “universal healthcare system”, which a lot of Australians do not contribute to, is on the verge of collapse.

Australians don’t want Australia to become like America and that means keeping our universal healthcare and decent wages. Also, health spending is not growing at an unsustainable rate, nor is it on the verge of collapse. If you read AIHW Reports around this you can see growth is modest and smaller than it was in the 1980s.

Minz 9:24 pm 26 Sep 14

dungfungus said :

Our “universal healthcare system”, which a lot of Australians do not contribute to, is on the verge of collapse.

Presumably you mean our universal healthcare system which gets better overall results than the US, but costs approximately half as much as US healthcare? If state and federal governments weren’t trying so hard to bring it down (to the benefit of nobody but big business), it probably wouldn’t be in such an apparently parlous state.

Then again, I guess the US healthcare system can’t be near collapse because it’s not really a system, per se.

dungfungus 5:59 pm 26 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

braddonmonsta said :

Most studies (e.g. http://www.petrefoundation.org.au/docs/Wealthy_Aussies_000.pdf) will show you that we are wayyy behind the 8 ball when it comes to philanthropy. As a % of GNP, we give just one quarter of what Americans give. CF: http://www.smh.com.au/business/philanthropy-is-big-business–except-in-corporate-australia-20110603-1fktm.html

Personally I think it’s good that people are bullied into opening their wallets.

The difference between here and America is that here we pay taxes, and here our taxes actually go towards providing welfare and housing for the less fortunate.

We don’t need to make individual decisions to give money away because we have an institutionalised system to do it for us, in the form of our taxation system.

Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system.

“Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system”
That is why there are more unemployed in Australia than there are in the USA.
Our “universal healthcare system”, which a lot of Australians do not contribute to, is on the verge of collapse.

HenryBG 3:43 pm 26 Sep 14

braddonmonsta said :

Most studies (e.g. http://www.petrefoundation.org.au/docs/Wealthy_Aussies_000.pdf) will show you that we are wayyy behind the 8 ball when it comes to philanthropy. As a % of GNP, we give just one quarter of what Americans give. CF: http://www.smh.com.au/business/philanthropy-is-big-business–except-in-corporate-australia-20110603-1fktm.html

Personally I think it’s good that people are bullied into opening their wallets.

The difference between here and America is that here we pay taxes, and here our taxes actually go towards providing welfare and housing for the less fortunate.

We don’t need to make individual decisions to give money away because we have an institutionalised system to do it for us, in the form of our taxation system.

Same with America’s stupid classist tipping system – we don’t tip, because we have decent standards for minimum wages and working conditions, and we have access to a universal healthcare system.

HenryBG 3:38 pm 26 Sep 14

Stevian said :

braddonmonsta said :

Traditionally, one gives 10% of their income to charity.
.

Really? What kind of stupid tradition is that?

I think it’s a “I just made this up in order to commit an ‘appeal to emotion’ argumentative fallacy” kind of tradition.

Speaking personally, I pay 30% of my income in taxes, why would I feel compelled to give another 10% voluntarily, to people who will keep most of it as “commissions”?

50% of our government’s annual budget is spent on welfare and health. Therefore, 10% of my income is already being given away as welfare charity, while 5% is going to health.

I’m quite happy with that, I think my contribution is very generous, and I do not pretend to fiddle with my phone when confronted by charity-pirates – I tell them, “you look bored”, or “I’ve already paid my taxes”, or “I can’t give you my name and credit card number for security reasons”.

braddonmonsta 11:47 am 26 Sep 14

BenAlexander said :

But don’t take my word for it. Associated Press did a 2010 article which placed Aus equal first with NZ in the charity stakes…

See this link: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australia-tops-list-of-charitable-countries-20100909-153b5.html

Seriously? This survey allows people who donated as little as 1 cent in the whole year to claim they are ‘charitable’. What a load of cr#p.

Most studies (e.g. http://www.petrefoundation.org.au/docs/Wealthy_Aussies_000.pdf) will show you that we are wayyy behind the 8 ball when it comes to philanthropy. As a % of GNP, we give just one quarter of what Americans give. CF: http://www.smh.com.au/business/philanthropy-is-big-business–except-in-corporate-australia-20110603-1fktm.html

Personally I think it’s good that people are bullied into opening their wallets.

bigfeet 5:12 pm 24 Sep 14

I have two standard responses to chuggers:

For most charities chuggers: ‘Can you give me the website link? I’d like to donate but want to make sure the whole donation goes to the organisation thanks.”

For Greenpeace chuggers: “Isn’t it illegal to collect funds for a terrorist organisation?”

Both responses stop them in their tracks.

Genie 4:24 pm 24 Sep 14

I’d rather be stopped by someone with a collection tin over someone demanding I sign up for monthly donations of at least $50 per month.

But they are a pest!

One chugger didn’t appreciate me abusing him when he grabbed my arm as I was running to catch my bus. I had my headphones in and was only focused on getting to my bus stop ASAP as my bus was already at the platform and i wanted to get there before it pulled away. Next thing I knew he stepped in front of me waving and tried to grab my hand. I removed one earbud and rudely explained that I didn’t want to miss my bus, as I tried to walk away he then grabbed my arm. “Just 1 minute of your time”

A loud fK off and let me go drew the attention of the ACTION staff who had stern words with them.

The charity will never get any donations from me.

Alexandra Craig 12:55 pm 24 Sep 14

Kalliste said :

braddonmonsta said :

I hate them as much as you do, but I think they are a necessary evil.

Traditionally, one gives 10% of their income to charity. In a city like Canberra, that should average at $165 per week. I don’t know -anyone- who gives anywhere near that much. “Regularly donating” through small one-off donations just doesn’t cut it.

Until you can personally say that you donate 10% of your income each and every fortnight to charity, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on on this issue.

Uhm, 1) $165 is somewhat higher than 10% of my weekly income and 2) why would I give a charity 10% of what I’ve earnt.. especially if they’re paying people to hassle me in the street?

I’m happy to donate if I agree/like the cause but don’t feel obligated to spend 10% each year on charity.

Also, the beggars and charity stalls are a massive issue in Dickson, I used to walk down the path from the Tradies just so I could avoid them.

The figure of $165 is based on 10% of the average Canberrans wage (around $85,000 per year), but this figure is obviously before tax. What people would actually take home in their pay packet would be much less, therefore the $165 should go down a lot too.

watto23 9:12 pm 23 Sep 14

braddonmonsta said :

I hate them as much as you do, but I think they are a necessary evil.

Traditionally, one gives 10% of their income to charity. In a city like Canberra, that should average at $165 per week. I don’t know -anyone- who gives anywhere near that much. “Regularly donating” through small one-off donations just doesn’t cut it.

No the issue I have is there are middle men in companies who go to charities telling them they can earn them a lot more money and they take a commission of the earnings.

So for every dollar you donate, the chugger, gets some, the collection company gets a lot and whats left over goes to the charity.

I object to the companies who exist to make money collecting money for charities. They never want to divulge exactly what percentage the charity gets.

HiddenDragon 6:53 pm 23 Sep 14

Giving ten percent of one’s income – tithing – is a concept which has its origins in Old Testament times (when the welfare system was probably somewhat less comprehensive and generous than what we have now). The more creatively minded might thus see it as Biblical support for a ten percent flat tax…..

Back on topic, whether it’s periodic donations throughout the year, or one worthwhile annual donation, I wonder how much of the money received by charities is frittered away on the the large amounts of marketing materials they post out.

Kalliste 5:34 pm 23 Sep 14

braddonmonsta said :

I hate them as much as you do, but I think they are a necessary evil.

Traditionally, one gives 10% of their income to charity. In a city like Canberra, that should average at $165 per week. I don’t know -anyone- who gives anywhere near that much. “Regularly donating” through small one-off donations just doesn’t cut it.

Until you can personally say that you donate 10% of your income each and every fortnight to charity, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on on this issue.

Uhm, 1) $165 is somewhat higher than 10% of my weekly income and 2) why would I give a charity 10% of what I’ve earnt.. especially if they’re paying people to hassle me in the street?

I’m happy to donate if I agree/like the cause but don’t feel obligated to spend 10% each year on charity.

Also, the beggars and charity stalls are a massive issue in Dickson, I used to walk down the path from the Tradies just so I could avoid them.

dannybear 5:11 pm 23 Sep 14

I walk through civic numerous times a day and I’ve never been pestered by a chugger, the joys of looking like a student 🙂

gazket 4:47 pm 23 Sep 14

public menace and a fraud. A good stiff broom needs putting through the so called charities. If they are asking for a minimum or want direct debit from you it’s no longer a charity it’s a business.

astrojax 4:37 pm 23 Sep 14

chewy14 said :

Antagonist said :

braddonmonsta said :

Traditionally, one gives 10% of their income to charity. In a city like Canberra, that should average at $165 per week. I don’t know -anyone- who gives anywhere near that much. “Regularly donating” through small one-off donations just doesn’t cut it.

Tradition? Never heard that one before. I know some religious organisations demand 10% of earnings from their congregation (I’m looking at you, Seventh Day Adventists) but that is less about charity and more about perpetuating their religion.

Traditionally I give over 40% of my income to the government in the form of taxation.

sure, but you can’t just lower your eyes or pretend to be engrossed with your phone and just ignore them. worse luck!

sort of on topic, does no-one use ‘i already gave at the office’ these days?

chewy14 3:49 pm 23 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

braddonmonsta said :

Traditionally, one gives 10% of their income to charity. In a city like Canberra, that should average at $165 per week. I don’t know -anyone- who gives anywhere near that much. “Regularly donating” through small one-off donations just doesn’t cut it.

Tradition? Never heard that one before. I know some religious organisations demand 10% of earnings from their congregation (I’m looking at you, Seventh Day Adventists) but that is less about charity and more about perpetuating their religion.

Traditionally I give over 40% of my income to the government in the form of taxation.

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