Student, young, idealistic, political. In need of money. The stereotype works against me, because it was for these reasons that I applied for a job at a large, secular, international charity (on an hourly rate, not commission) and was brought on as an advocate for the in-house team.

Pretend koalas are people too. Pic: Grant Turner

I’ve since quit, because the stress was damaging my health and interfering with my studies, but I still felt somewhat offended when I read the recent article that labeled human beings, doing their job, parasites.

Charity + parasitism = Charasites? It seems appropriate given the way the public view charity advocates: sneaky, manipulative, naive children who don’t know already that the world isn’t worth saving. On more than one occasion on the street when I invited somebody over with a friendly “Hello”, they wandered over with meagre interest and said half heartedly, “C’mon, give us your best pitch”, as if I were a casual amusement.

This was hardly the most demoralising event one could suffer whilst doing one’s job. There were people who flipped you the finger, who told you ‘where to go’ or accused you of things that weren’t your fault. My work partner and I were at times called pathetic and asked “How dare we?”. At other times we were completely ignored by shopping complexes veritably bristling with people.

Let’s be honest here: being ignored by hundreds of people every day is not nice, especially after the 6am or earlier start that you need to make each morning just to catch public transport to whichever part of the city you’ve been told to work in this week. That’s why only ‘well-meaning, hyper-energetic young people in netball smocks’ survive in such a job, because you need to be that positive.

But here’s the big secret: people can be genuine. I can’t speak for the whole industry, but whilst working I met some of the most inspiring and sincere people I have ever met. I met a man who had worked as a ‘charasite’ for eight years, and when I asked him what he wanted to do with his life he replied, “I only want to help”. Those happy looking people on the street that want to tell you about the dangers of deforestation, overfishing, or how $17 feeds a family of five for three months - they just want to help.

But you’re out on the street, whether it be 40 degrees or raining, and you are expected to impose yourself upon another person going about their own business, and then speak to them. What part of that sounds like fun, especially when you already know the loathing that the public has for ‘charasites’?

As an introvert, this was my absolute worst nightmare, but I was surprisingly good at it. Why? Because I wasn’t just delivering a pre-recorded sales pitch, I was talking to the person. The very first thing that I was told in training was “Do not ‘pitch’ at people”, and every advocate I ever met had amazing ethical standards. It was by no means a rule, but one didn’t sign someone up if they were drunk (yes, it happens) or if they seem emotionally or psychologically unstable or most importantly, incapable of sustaining a long term commitment.

As much as charities want to bleed the poor average working person for every cent they’re worth: they want willing, committed benefactors. I met dozens of people who’d be sponsoring for over a decade, or in several cases multiple decades.

It is an interesting social phenomenon, that when one works for a charity as an advocate, that people blame you for the collective crimes of all other charities and advocates, and treat you accordingly. More than once I was blamed for different charity taking more money out of a bank account than they were supposed to, or for the time when a nasty advocate said something rude, and when I say ‘blamed’, I mean verbally assaulted.

People go out of their way to waste your time by asking pointless questions. They threaten you with physical violence. They call you scum and dehumanise you. This is interesting because nobody (other than advocates) seems to think this is wrong. The thing that I wanted most when working, wasn’t more sign-ups or less hours, I just wanted for people to say, “No thank you”. Just a polite, “I’m not interested” would do. Not an apology, just anything other than blind hate or complete disregard.

Charities are always under pressure to source more money, and this pressure is passed down to managers which is then passed down to advocates in the street who are told that they absolutely have to make the minimum sign-up each day, and meet a weekly quota. They are on their feet all day, talking to strangers in any weather in any location, forced to carry banners and posters and other materials and all the while remain positive and peppy.

Being a charasite is not easy money, it is not easy to do. My manager was conscientious and often offered sick days to people, because it was normal for people to ‘burn out’ and have mental breakdowns. Why is it okay to call these people parasites in the media, and to be downright inhumane to them in the street?

Follow Josh on Twitter at @jakalope242

Most commented


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    • Tel says:

      12:46pm | 09/08/12

      There is a (justified) prejudice about people getting paid to collect for charities. In over 20 years of voluntarily raising money for charity via a service club I can not recall a single adverse remark.

    • Alex says:

      01:55pm | 09/08/12

      True. The other day as I went into woolies a surf lifesaver volunteer guy asked if I could spare a donation. I gave him $10, he shook my hand, gave me a pin and said thanks.
      However the salespeople demanding my credit card and using pressure sales to manipulate me can politely push off

    • Don says:

      02:42am | 10/08/12

      Exactly, I think this fellow needs to use those much vaunted generation y smarts and figure out a better approach.

    • kitteh says:

      11:35am | 10/08/12

      I agree. I volunteer for a local animal charity, and have done our annual street appeal (usually working in the busy CBD) for four years. Not only have I never had so much as a rude remark, I have had many people compliment our charity for only using unpaid volunteers and for our uninvasive approach (you stand with your tin and leaflets and smile at everyone, thanking them profusely for the smallest donation - that’s all). Clearly people are tired of the ‘chugger’ approach.

    • No thank you says:

      12:46pm | 09/08/12

      There’s no reason for ANYONE to be rude to another human being. But if charities want my money, get out the old fashioned coin tin and ask for nothing more. If you want my time, I don’t have it to spare. You want a long term commitment - so does AGL and Optus and they don’t get it either.

      As for being “forced” to do anything, grow up. We all have jobs or part there of that we don’t like. Choose another job or take a couple of cement pills and harden the… up.

    • Hambone says:

      01:06pm | 09/08/12

      “There’s no reason for ANYONE to be rude to another human being” followed by “take a couple of cement pills and harden the… up”.

    • andrew says:

      01:32pm | 09/08/12

      i once had to ring optus and tell them “where to go” after they rang me once wanting me to dump pre paid and go on a contract. I told them i was happy with pre-paid and not interested and hung up. They then attempted to ring me every day for a week (i never answered) until i rang them and told them to never call me again or i’ll switch carriers. It’s been a year and a half and i haven’t had them ring me since.

    • stephen says:

      03:47pm | 09/08/12

      You use a lot of words to say that you’re just a stinge.

    • thetrishalee says:

      12:46pm | 09/08/12

      Good for you Josh, and all your fellow advocates. It’s important and not fun work and I think we all need to show a lot more respect.

    • Testfest says:

      01:02pm | 09/08/12

      I disagree. How did charities source money prior to the rise of the chuggers on the streets?

      Maybe the barrage of abuse and ill feeling is a sign that they should look for alternative methods of revenue raising.

    • Testfest says:

      01:03pm | 09/08/12

      I disagree. How did charities source money prior to the rise of the chuggers on the streets?

      Maybe the barrage of abuse and ill feeling is a sign that they should look for alternative methods of revenue raising.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      03:04pm | 09/08/12

      You know what else is important and not (always) fun work?


      These drinks aren’t going to poor themselves Josh.

    • Meghan says:

      12:52pm | 09/08/12

      “being ignored by hundreds of people every day is not nice”

      Neither is someone harassing you for money you cannot afford to give ... then sometimes berating you or belittling you in front of others because you dared to say a polite ‘no’.

      But don’t fret, Josh - your work experience has been a wonderful introduction to the big, mean, nasty world we live in, eh?

    • Kling says:

      12:53pm | 09/08/12

      I’ll say one thing here to start with: Threats are not OK. Assaults and verbal abuse are not OK. There is such a thing as proportionate response and the kind of thugs who react like this to a charisite are the worse of two evils.

      That said though, the thing is that you’re failing to take into account here is the perspective of the person on the other end of the sales pitch; If we’re in the city during the middle of a weekday, we’re typically using a very small and finite block of time to accomplish a series of pre-planned tasks such as paying bills or putting fuel into our bodies for the afternoon haul.

      From our perspective, your sales pitch is an imposition from a stranger in a very valuable block of time. No more and no less. If I am a giving, caring person (which I am), I use my own initiative to find charities I believe in and give them my support (which I do). I will also freely give a gold coin to most button sellers waving a money tin back and forth on a street corner.

      Suffice to say, your job is to waste our time. The product you are selling has as a funny smell to it. Subsequently, we’re not obligated to be polite to someone with a negative impact on our existences.

    • Samuel says:

      03:08pm | 09/08/12

      Spot on. That’s exactly the reason I never stop for charity spruikers, because I have a limited lunch time and i need to do things in that time. And even if i don’t have pressing things to do, it’s still my free time to do with as i please.

      The other thing is, people are rude because so many charity spruikers don’t take no for an answer. They ask deliberately leading questions to get you into a conversation. I’m sorry if the author’s feelings got hurt, but when the predominant tactic used by these spruikers is to hook you into a conversation, you have no choice but to be rude.

    • Justme says:

      07:43am | 10/08/12

      I walked past one at my local shopping centre. I had my two young children with me and was pushing a full grocery trolley. This paragon of good manners actually grabbed my trolley, started rummaging through the bags and declared “by the look of this and the look of you, you don’t know what hunger is. How about a donation?”

      A quick phone call the shopping centre management and they removed that particular charity from thei premises. Seems this was his standard pitch and many others had complained too.

    • Woodsy says:

      12:53pm | 09/08/12

      I don’t envy your job and I can certainly appreciate that you’re trying to do good, but the issue I have is the approach by some of the collectors - or advocates, however you want to phrase them.

      I donate a lot of money to charity organisations, money which I could easily keep for myself, but I choose to help out with building better kennels at Animal Shelters, feeding hungry families, helping fund cancer studies or whatever else, yet the approach by some of these people is to try and shame you into donating money to their cause.

      “No thanks, I already donate to other charities” is basically met with a ‘yeah sure’ smirk and a question about whether the money used for my takeaway coffee could be better spent on whatever cause they’re spruiking.
      Sheer resentment then stops me from giving two shits about their cause and only giving my thoughts on their marketing approach.

      Again, I fully appreciate what you’re trying to do, but in my experience, it’s a case of the minority ruining it for the majority.

    • Kerryn says:

      03:13pm | 09/08/12

      ““No thanks, I already donate to other charities” is basically met with a ‘yeah sure’ smirk and a question about whether the money used for my takeaway coffee could be better spent on whatever cause they’re spruiking.”

      This really irks me no end!  I’m a huge supporter of Mater Home, Surf Lifesavers and Plan Australia.  Yet I’m not entitled to spend the money I worked hard to earn on something nice for me?!

      If they say that to me, I usually just walk off with a “Whatever”.

    • Frank says:

      01:18pm | 10/08/12

      I agree with Woodsy, the number of times I have gone to the nearby mall for lunch or to pop in to go to the shops to be confronted with sprukers for charities and or other businesses (free gym memberships for example) I just ignore them firstly, I donate to charities I want to donate to not just because I happen to be in their eyesight that I should be targeted secondly I choose what I use my money for and if I dont want to talk to you about giving away my hard earned to a cause I either don’t believe in or whatever its my choice, im sorry but your out in a public place intruding my personal space, on my not sorry about that…I get enough charities calling me at home on saturdays to donate as it is

    • Jme says:

      01:00pm | 09/08/12

      Mate, life is tough. If you dont like the work, get out. We arent always walking around casually window shopping, wondering which shop we will pick next to spend our money in. We all have bills to pay. We are usually having to buy groceries and shit that we dont really wanna buy, coz we cant really afford. The last thing we want is you selling stuff to save the world that quite simply we cant afford m8. Its bloody annoying. What you lot need to do, is get some insight into basic observation skills. Dont approach us in the street. Wear something bright and noticable and let us approach you. Otherwize it is darn right rude for you to impose the hard luck save the world story on those of us who have ‘worked on our feet all bloody day to have someone like you nearly cause burnout’ from repeatedly harassing in the street for money. If I want to give you my money, or more to the point, have the money to give,  I will. Dont ask for it, please. Thanks.

    • stephen says:

      03:51pm | 09/08/12

      You’ve got nothing I want ... so you can keep it, m8.

    • nihonin says:

      01:00pm | 09/08/12

      I wouldn’t call people who collect for charities Charasites, I call the charities themselves Charasites.  When you know they spend money on dinners, advertising, cars and world trips to ‘meetings’, you just know very little actually goes to the people who actually need it.  Also what’s with the credit card ‘donation’ I phoned a Charasite to cancel my monthly ‘donation’ as I can’t afford it at the moment and was told they will start deducting from card again next March.  Obviously I made it succinctly clear to the person on the phone, no the charasite won’t be and no I didn’t abuse her.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      03:07pm | 09/08/12

      Precisely nihonin. I simply prefer to call the people collecting for the charasites ‘naive’ and move on.

    • seniorcynic says:

      04:34pm | 09/08/12

      You should pay by paypal if possible because you can easily cancel your monthly donation by going into “my account” on the Paypal website.

    • Kelly says:

      01:01pm | 09/08/12

      You have just shown exactly why this type of fund raising should be banned.

      ‘It was normal for people to ‘burn out’ and have mental breakdowns’

      Charities who accept money by doing this to people do not deserve any funds.  It may be a collection agency doing the dirty work, but the charity is gaining money from people’s misery.  I wonder how this sits with the charity’s philosophy and mission statement. 

      Organisations are required by law to provide a safe workplace.  This includes the mental health of it’s workers.

    • Mahhrat says:

      03:11pm | 09/08/12

      We have a winner!  More internets to you, Kelly.

    • Gordon says:

      01:01pm | 09/08/12

      Josh sure, no-one should be rude or agressive to you in that role but the reactions you were getting are telling you something: people like to be generous in their own way not be cornered into it. It puts your (good) cause in the same basket as foot-in-the-door salesmen and telemarketers and we hate it.

    • Al says:

      01:03pm | 09/08/12

      The ones we label ‘charasites’ are the ones who when you say “No thank you” or “I’m not interested” simply ignore you, continue to try and block your way and abuse you when you simply walk away.
      It is not the collectors who do a good job, like many other situations it is the bad collectors who make it more difficult for the good ones and set peoples expectations as this being:
      - A waste of their time.
      - Emotional manipulation.
      - A person who doesn’t know anything about what they are colecting for.
      Whether these are the minority I don’t know, but they turn people off and raise expectations that the collector is a parasite before they have even engaged. Experience with the bad makes it harder for the good.

    • Trying to be polite says:

      01:04pm | 09/08/12

      I walk one block to work from my carpark to my office.  I am in and out all day so regularly make this walk 3 or 4 times a day.  During this one block walk it is not unusual to be hit up for money by at least 5 different sets of Chuggers.  You talk about burn out but I think the public is also getting burned out and therefore turning off on your charity message.  Not because you as an individual has done something wrong but because the charity “industry” as a whole has worn out your welcome with Mr and Mrs Joe Public. 

      For the record I have two charities I support year in, year out with one single large donation.  I choose the time and month that goes out, not the charity.  Likewise I often get asked by friends and colleagues raising money for different things and have no problem contributing.  This support and donations are done at my own choosing, not at the insistence of a chugger who jumps in front of me as I try to go about my day.

    • Elphaba says:

      01:08pm | 09/08/12

      Josh, that’s why I tend to just keep walking and avoid looking at you.  Look, I’m a straight talker.  I don’t do well with people feigning an interest in what I’m doing, what I’m wearing, what book I’m carrying.  I can spot a phony from 10 paces and I call it like I see it.  I’m sure you’re a genuine person, but to pretend that you’re genuinely interested in me as a person *whilst* collecting for a charity - come on.  You’re interested in signing me up to your cause.  And so you should be - that’s the job.  So I don’t see the point of having the conversation when I’m just going to tell you ‘no’. And it’s not because I don’t think the world can’t be saved.  It’s not because I don’t think you’re a nice person, I’m sure you are.  It’s because I’ve already made my charity commitments on my meagre income.  I donate regularly to Earthwatch.  I participate in the bake sale at work a couple of times a year by spending my money and my time, baking goods to sell.  I drop a few coins into the Salvo’s buckets.  I donate coins to the bloke who grow moustaches.

      I meet plenty of people and make plenty of new friends.  I guess, bottom line, I don’t want to waste your time.  Maybe that’s why people are resentful of being confronted on the street.  You did a tough job, and I don’t make light of that for a second.  You couldn’t pay me to do what you did.  But I’m not going to fake an interest in you when ultimately, your goal is to get my credit card details, not be my friend.  And it irks me when people like you, do.

      Some of us just aren’t very good at faking it.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Samuel says:

      03:43pm | 09/08/12

      Great post. I agree. I know charity spruikers are just doing their job. But there is simply no way i am ever going to sign up to anything they have to offer so what else am I meant to do?

    • Leigh says:

      01:10pm | 09/08/12

      1st. article on the subject - 1

      2nd   ”      ”  ”    ”    - 0

    • Timinane says:

      01:12pm | 09/08/12

      I ignore chuggers or charasites because around hear they are mainly green groups and I don’t like their style as it’s been holding back members of my family who are trying to earn a living.

      I ignore other charities instead record names and check for a web presence and an annual report and if they fit my charity criteria I give to them on my own free will not because you hold a bucket at me and look said. The most important and far reaching condition is that money spent helping is to be greater than the money spent on wages. Goodwill shouldn’t be about the well off getting a pay cheque but the poor getting help for example. The focus of your charity should be the goal not the amount you can get out of people’s good intentions.

    • bella starkey says:

      01:14pm | 09/08/12

      I walk through the city from Wynyard to Hyde park on my way home via martin place. In that half a kilometre or so of my journey, every day, I have at least 4 if not more people trying to approach me to sign up to save the children/whales/door mice whatever. Josh, you must understand that when people jump out in front of you constantly trying to get not just money but your credit card details out of you it does feel like you’re being harassed. I usually just pretend they don’t exist but if someone is going to make comments about my appearance or whatever I don’t think it’s unreasonable to tell them to fuck off. I really don’t want some 19 year old trying to flatter me into being charitable, that’s not how it’s meant to work.

      Why should I have to acknowledge every single person trying to flog me something? I don’t need to apologise to the television every time I don’t want to buy something on an ad. Just because charity collectors are in front of my face doesn’t mean I have to either.

      And seriously boohoo people are mean to you at work. have you ever worked in a shop? in hospitality? a call centre? people are rude to everyone, some people just deserve it more than others.

    • bella starkey says:

      01:15pm | 09/08/12

      I walk through the city from Wynyard to Hyde park on my way home via martin place. In that half a kilometre or so of my journey, every day, I have at least 4 if not more people trying to approach me to sign up to save the children/whales/door mice whatever. Josh, you must understand that when people jump out in front of you constantly trying to get not just money but your credit card details out of you it does feel like you’re being harassed. I usually just pretend they don’t exist but if someone is going to make comments about my appearance or whatever I don’t think it’s unreasonable to tell them to fuck off. I really don’t want some 19 year old trying to flatter me into being charitable, that’s not how it’s meant to work.

      Why should I have to acknowledge every single person trying to flog me something? I don’t need to apologise to the television every time I don’t want to buy something on an ad. Just because charity collectors are in front of my face doesn’t mean I have to either.

      And seriously boohoo people are mean to you at work. have you ever worked in a shop? in hospitality? a call centre? people are rude to everyone, some people just deserve it more than others.

    • Zeta says:

      01:32pm | 09/08/12

      You want to know something creepy? I walk home the exact same route as you.

    • Inky says:

      11:02pm | 09/08/12

      ” people are rude to everyone, some people just deserve it more than others.”

      The things that I would say to you, if I wasn’t so sure it’ wouldn’t get through the mods or be deleted recently after. You’re right, some people DO deserve it more, and being someone who is abused by people on a daily basis in my job, I’ve not encountered anyone recently who seems to deserve it more than you.

      Telling people to eff of because they complimented you? My…    argh. The things I want to say to you are not for polite company.

    • Zeta says:

      01:16pm | 09/08/12

      I don’t think the problem is that these parasites work for charities, I think it’s that they’re there at all. We’d feel the same way if any corporation paid young people to loiter around outside our work places and compel us to pay for goods and services we don’t need.

      People wake up and go to jobs they hate because they’re shackled to a system that requires currency in exchange for every necessity, but between your home, and the place you have to do your job, you’re blasted with dozens – if not hundreds – of advertisements for even more things that need your money.

      And if you’re anything like me, they’re not even the things you want to spend your money on. I’d only be too happy to drive past billboards that advertise new and exciting cigarettes and liquor, but instead, you’re bombarded with ads demanding you buy soft drink that makes you fat and kills you just as quickly as nicotine, take away food made from reconstituted elbows, eyeballs, and scrotums, the same movies they’ve been making for the last 80 years, and clothes that, even if you don’t eat the aforementioned hamburgers and caffeinated beverages plastered on every wall, you’ll still be too fat for.

      We, collectively, cop this every day, and then, in those last few blissful seconds before the sliding doors of our sterile, air conditioned workplaces swallow us into their beige bosoms, we’re slammed with some 18 year old moppet in stupid pants and an ill-fitting polo shirt demanding we part with our hard earned cash to sponsor some dolt in Somalia too dumb to just be a pirate.

      And what annoys me more than anything is that Doctors Without Borders, or Amnesty International, or Starving Africans Anonymous or whoever, aren’t even creative enough to advertise to me in an interesting way. I saw an ad this morning for New Idea that was actually really great, it had Amish people who discover New Idea and start waxing their legs. It was funny and irreverent and even though I’m a man with enough technological devices in my carry-on luggage to render the magazine industry obsolete I actually wanted to buy a copy.

      But no, charities think there’s something folksy and appealing to paying kids to rattle a clipboard in your direction and guilt you into paying for something else you don’t need through sheer enthusiasm and the ever amazing tautness of tanned legs poking out of short shorts.

      That’s what grinds at people. That’s why they’re rude. People are sick of wandering about being manipulated into opening their wallets for everything in range.

      The other thing that pisses people off is the feeling that charities consider normal people mere cash cows, and not enlightened enough at the plight of the downtrodden to actually engage in any meaningful way with the issues that effect them.

      I reckon you’d have much better luck saying to people, ‘Hey, I don’t want your money, I want you to come help us make some sandwiches and give them to homeless people.’ I think a lot more people would stop and say, ‘Yeah, that sounds a lot more interesting than watching another debit rack up in bank statements.’

    • AdamC says:

      01:43pm | 09/08/12

      Zeta, you are right that it is the intrusiveness of the whole ‘charasite’ thing that galls most people. I think I am quite fortunate, as I very rarely get targeted by them when walking out of the train station or wherever. I am not sure whether that is because I generally do make eye contact with them (rather than pointedly not doing so, like many other people) or because I just look ungenerous. Either one is fine with me.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      03:16pm | 09/08/12

      I walk around dressed as a pirate (from space) so I think this helps me. Plus I try my best to stink of weed and hooker spit.

      “...demanding we part with our hard earned cash to sponsor some dolt in Somalia too dumb to just be a pirate.” If everyone were smart enough to just be pirates and/or ninjas, the world would be a much better place.

    • Ginger Mick says:

      04:15pm | 09/08/12

      “reconstituted elbows, eyeballs and scrotums.” I’m drooling again

    • eRon says:

      10:00pm | 09/08/12

      Dear Admiral
      What in the world does (grimaces) “hooker spit’ smell like?
      Before I even know the answer, already thinking, there’s a road I’m glad I haven’t traveled.

    • Grosey says:

      01:25pm | 09/08/12

      Although you may represent a reputable company, there are many companies that don’t comply with your moral standards. Most of the charities actually outsource their sign-up salesman to 3rd parties who are out to make a quick buck.

      I know this as I worked as a charasite for 2 days. During the 2 days I learnt a “sales script” and was taught various techniques to make people feel cheap or awkward if they didn’t sign up. Targets for these charities were usually the vulnerable and uniniated, young LBOTE students or lonely looking girls.

      Mate, you sound like a genuine kid and I respect the fact that you didn’t compromise your morality for your job, but there are plenty of people out there who don’t live by the standards of you and me, and cast a disgusting shadow over the whole industry. If we want to remove this stigma, why don’t we push for greater legislation surrounding the industry, or better yet let charities review the service that these 3rd parties employ so that they can protect their reuputation.

    • Matt says:

      01:33pm | 09/08/12

      Would you like some cheese with your whine?

    • mm says:

      01:34pm | 09/08/12

      Getting harassed on every second street you walk down by overly positive ‘charity’ workers really is annoying ! (in some parts of Sydney such as near Central Station you can find up to 3 separate charity groups harassing you on a single 50 meter strip….. aaaarrrggghhhhhhhhhhh!

      I am forced to keep my mobile in hand constantly just so I can pretend I am talking on the phone…..just so they leave me alone!

    • Nikki says:

      01:39pm | 09/08/12

      “I only want to help.” Then get a proper job and donate your own money, or go and work on the ‘coalface’ and do something that will actually make a difference, instead of being a pest to busy people who are just trying to get on with their day and have their own job hassles to deal with.

    • ABC says:

      07:02pm | 09/08/12

      Recently we had a function at work which was drastically over catered for.  There were whole trays of alfoiled and glad wrapped food that hadn’t been opened.  I suggested that prior to adjourning down to the bar downstairs and getting ourselves hammered that we take the trays of food down to the nearest homeless street cart and give it to them. We had to provide business cards and licences to verify who we were (presumably so that they knew we hadn’t put anything untoward into the food), we gave them the food and then toddled off to the pub.

      The following week I got an email from someone within the organisation to whom we had donated the food.  Our corporate sandwiches and party pies and sausage rolls meant that that night they could feed approximately 60 extra people.  It meant nothing to us, but are we to be considered less, because we don’t sign up for something.  Or would you have preferred that I give you $150 which was probably the cost of this extra food to be wasted on the wages of someone who is paid to harrass me in the street>

    • Ryan says:

      01:41pm | 09/08/12

      I agree with earlier posters; seldom is there a justification for rudeness.

      Charity is an unquestionable moral virtue. Charities can be a whole other story.

      The literal face of these organisations in the street is an uncomfortable reminder to some of the inqueality that exists in the world; our comfort comes at the expense of another.

      It is a very confronting and daunting issue that sometimes provokes a very raw, defensive response from people.

      Again, not a justification, just a reason.

    • M says:

      01:48pm | 09/08/12

      There’s a million charities these days and they’re all looking for the same thing, and you guys wonder why people are rude and nasty to you? A schoolteacher of mine called it “doner fatigue.”

    • vox says:

      02:50pm | 09/08/12

      M, are you saying that your teacher got tired of kebabs?
      You are quite right with the rest, (I was only joking), there seems to be a belief that charity is infinite. But the compassion bin is not bottomless, and like you I get pissed off with the “obligation attack”. I’m not responsible for the ills of the world. I am responsible to my own moral and legal commitments, but that’s it. I don’t give to these bloodsuckers.
      Whoever might criticise me, (plenty do and sometimes rightly so), let them say to these pariahs, “Show me your books. Show me that you actually are charitable”. Then you will know that they have much to hide.
      Ask the local priest why his church, which is empty 85% of the time is not used for sheltering the homeless. Ask him what the money is actually spent on, that money that is taken from those who sometimes can least afford it.
      Take them all off the streets and let them be judged by what they show us they do. Let’s see some results.
      As for you Josh, try to remember that you are, despite your assurances, just trying to separate me from my money. And Josh, beggars can be choosers.

    • CD says:

      03:02pm | 09/08/12

      Was that from too many kebabs?
      Sorry couldn’t resist wink

      Actually I agree with donor fatigue.

    • Timinane says:

      03:54pm | 09/08/12

      hope it’s not your English teacher as it’s donor not doner, someone might be getting extra homework.

      Though as I said earlier I want more money spent on the cause and not paying people so I don’t think this donor fatigue is a good reason for the rudeness. Though we can be nicer in Tassie than in Melbourne or Sydney so that might be a cause. I reckon despite our reputation we are one of the last bastions of some Australian values like lending a hand though only among the poorer parts of the state rather than the more wealthy parts.

    • ronny jonny says:

      01:50pm | 09/08/12

      “Student, young, idealistic, political. In need of money. The stereotype works against me”, that is a big part of why you are disliked. Apart from being pests, nobody wants foolish young idealists trying to guilt money out of them. My god boy, are you wearing a black turtle neck sweater in that photo? Do yourself a favour, try not dressing and acting like a wanker and people might not be so hostile towards you and lose the Beatles haircut, it’s ridiculous.

    • St. Michael says:

      02:10pm | 09/08/12

      He’d work pretty well in a Lonely Island video, though.  Google “I Just Had Sex” and tell me I’m wrong.

    • Economist says:

      02:20pm | 09/08/12

      rj read the bio, he’s already taken the piss out of himself.

      As for being a charasite, simple. Get your employer to either buy or liaise with Westfield to give you some space in a mall. Hanging around outside peoples offices when they’re busy is your problem, in malls people are on lunch breaks. In malls you may also get the roadie rather than just targetting suits, you may get doctors wives on a shopping spree. It will be seen as more legitimate.

      People will still ignore you because they’re busy, but it will be considered less intrusive.

      I also hate those Gym guys handing out passes and trying to sign you up. Hey when I have a durry hanging out of my mouth do you think I’m interested in going to your gym?

    • Bitten says:

      02:01pm | 09/08/12

      “It is an interesting social phenomenon, that when one works for a charity as an advocate, that people blame you for the collective crimes of all other charities and advocates, and treat you accordingly. More than once I was blamed for different charity taking more money out of a bank account than they were supposed to, or for the time when a nasty advocate said something rude, and when I say ‘blamed’, I mean verbally assaulted.”

      It is an interesting social phenomenon that the average and ungifted individual will assume far greater importance of themselves and their individual experiences in life than that of any other person in the world, ever. It is a curious paradox that you, as someone attempting to glow with self-righteousness of your desire ‘just to help’ others, you are incapable of considering other people’s experiences in the slightest, while being more than capable of throwing yourself a glorious pity party.

      You’re right Josh. You poor poor thing. No one has ever been, as a lawyer, blamed for all the terrible lawyers. No one has ever been, as a doctor, told all about why doctors are terrible and all of them suck. No one has ever been, as an architect, laughed at and told their profession is just a leech to suck fees for a service that can be done cheaply by a run of the mill builder. Just to give you a few examples of how un-special and un-unique you are, kiddo.

      Not once do you consider the basis behind people’s disaffection for chuggers - the interruption, the imposition, the exploitation of social niceties and/or guilt in an attempt to sell something, in this case, an altruistic feeling and the meaningless approval of some twat on the street who thinks because they’re ‘just doing their job’ they’re entitled to treat the rest of society as a bank balance. You’re a telemarketer with something to sell Josh. You just do it in person.

    • fish says:

      02:56pm | 09/08/12

      Try being a Public Servant.

    • Bec says:

      04:17pm | 09/08/12

      @ fish: Try dealing with public servants.

    • maybe says:

      04:10pm | 10/08/12

      Bec: If you are are public servant, you have to deal with them on a daily basis.

    • Bernd Wechner says:

      02:16pm | 09/08/12

      As a vaguely related issue only, I’ll share that I developed a philosophy after a decade on the road of dealing with beggars that you’ll encounter almost everywhere over time putting the hit on you for some change for meal or a bus far or whatever.

      The stance was simple because I didn’t have money to spare per se, with no income myself, basically globetrotting with a backpack living off my savings, minimizing costs (hitch-hiking, camping out, finding hosts etc.) to get as far as I could on the savings I had feeling myself limited not by time, but wealth and the longer I could last with the savings I had the more time I’d have to see the world.

      In that context, I figured if someone wanted money from me, frankly while I did have some, I had savings, I had no income or source of money, only expenses, for years, and I’d want to know why they needed it more than I did. So I’d offer them some time, basically sit down with them if they would and chat a bit about well, how it is they come to need this money. Some interesting stories emerged that I won’t share here, but in the end I never gave a single one of them money ... I shared food with some but that was all. They didn’t even want money anymore once we’d shared stories, but it was clear to both of inevitably who the lucky one was ... here I was, bold enough, white enough, young enough, Australian enough to be almost anywhere on the planet and find a swath of opportunities in the form of hosts, in cars, on boats in houses keen to share a little of their lives with me and a degree and some work experience behind me too that meant I could and did over the years find work here and there as well in the IT sector, and even stopped to do a post grad degree that took some legwork to fund but I while I was vagrant for years I was never homeless per se.

      The upshot was, I concluded that if you pay street side solicitors money, no matter what for, or who they represent you are casting a firm vote in favor of seeing them there again. In short if we reward the art of solicitation we encourage it. We have street side solicitors, paid ones at that from charities because they are net positive in returns, i.e. earn more than they cost. And the only way you’ll see the end of them is not to encourage them. To wit “I gave at the office” with a smile is your best card if you don’t have time to stop for a chat - which I’ll still do from time to time with charity solicitors for the fun of it, but I admit it’s rare I feel I have the time.

      The same stance I hold with unsolicited phone calls from charities or otherwise. I’ve got my number on the blacklist and shouldn’t get calls, but still do, and they’re always of an early evening and I’ll either interrupt and let them know I won’t encourage such phone calls and hang up, or again from time to time if I feel I have the time I’ll chit chat a while about what they are offering or asking for and who they represent and so on and have on more than one occasion told the Royal Guide Dogs Association after such a chat, that I’m real sorry, I love what you do, and you have my warm vote of support, but there is no way I will encourage such phone soliciting and I’d ask you to feed that back up to your supervisors, cheers.

      On my first year on the road I came across an amazing association called the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT). They provided for free, no solicitation whatsoever, as a handout, a little booklet with doctors in over 125 countries that spoke English and accepted travelers on notice. Wow! I was so blown away I went into their local office and put $100 on the counter as a donation, and they just looked at me and wondered what trick I was pulling wink. They’d never had someone donate so much in one hit in that office. And I had no income either remember ... but I was simply so taken back by the brilliant service with nothing asked in return. This, I wanted to encourage ...

      We vote once every few years in democracies at the polls, but I learned a long time ago, you vote every single day when you spend a buck, and every buck you spend is a vote for something. Vote wisely.

      I agree with an earlier poster. There is no reason ever to be intentionally rude to another human being.

    • stephen says:

      04:03pm | 09/08/12

      ’ ... intentionally rude to another human being ‘?
      Good god old chap, you must have been aghast at every war and bitter fence dummy spit since the dawn of Man, so I look forward to your next Idealistic fawn on this site the next time money apparently changes hands.

    • Jack says:

      02:44pm | 09/08/12

      Let’s be honest - for every one idealistic young girl/girl who just wants to make a difference, there are ten Irish backpackers who just want to collect their 30% cut to pour into the Empire Hotel that night.

      If I have been inadvertently dismissive of you on the street, it’s only because I am over dealing with the latter and their stupid tricks to try and guilt you into funding the next round of Carlton Draught.

    • Cathy says:

      02:44pm | 09/08/12

      Sure- make yourself feel good by working for a charity to raise money for them- but I will NEVER give money to a charity that employs people to do this. If you really cared about the cause then offer your time for free to a charity that actually funnels the money to the correct places, and not to the administrations who run these tax-dodging companies pretending to do good.

    • Stephy says:

      02:56pm | 09/08/12

      My problem with charities is that while I’m happy to make a once off donation, I must go down in their books as “willing to donate” because once a month, from about 5 different charities, I get a call up with a phrase touted at me that says something like this: “Thank you Mrs. Munroe for your previous donation, we’d just like to know if you’d extend out that generosity once more and <insert current marketing pitch here>”. If I give $10 to the Blind Dog Foundation because a doorknocker asked me to make a donation, I do NOT want to be called up every month for the next 5 years with the same request! I’m sick of saying “No”. If I buy some raffle tickets I don’t want to be made to feel obliged over and over and over again to keep doing it. On top of the once off donations I make I also support other charities regularly and sponsor a child. When I asked to stop sponsoring Canteen (after a year of membership) they said “Right fine” and put me back down as a donor the next month, automatically taking the payments off my card. I rang in anger and they said “Oh, we must have misunderstood you, we thought you just meant the one payment”. Yeah, right.

    • Darren says:

      02:56pm | 09/08/12

      I had the RSPCA call me one night asking me to buy some of there products to promote the RSPCA.  The things they were selling I had no need for (Pens, Diaries, Tea Towels) so I told the lady caller “No thanks but I will make a donation”.  She then replied “No were need you to buy one of our items”. I said I would need to have a look at them first on tthe web site or in a catalogue. She said “We don’t have them there because we are trying to save money”.

      I said that I iwll not pay for something that I cannot see.  It all sounded a bit dodgy to me.  She said they would send me a couple of samples & if I don’t want them to just send them back.  I once again said that I would prefer to just make a donation but was told that buying the products would be better.

      3 weeks later some samples turned up with an invoice for $72 to be paid by the end of that month.  I returned the item as I was not paying that much for things I didn’t want.

      So basically the RSPCA missed out on a donation from me because this silly women only wanted me to pay online for things I did not want.

      Moral of the story.  If someone wants to give you money no matter the amount, TAKE IT & be thankful they did.  Don’t push your luck

    • Michael S says:

      03:09pm | 09/08/12

      Chuggers/charasites are like boat people.
      Most Australians are generous and would like to help where we can. But we resent having people impose themselves on us and trying to make us feel obligated. We want to choose who we support, and to have the right to say no without copping a guilt trip.

    • Jack says:

      04:20pm | 09/08/12

      No, it’s actually nothing to do with ‘boat people’.
      Or ‘the carbons taxes’.
      Or JOOLIAR.

      Tenuous link is tenuous.

    • Yuri says:

      04:04pm | 09/08/12

      So you’re saying that chugging/charasiting has a high likelihood of being an unenjoyable experience for both parties? With the positive outcome to the situation being one party being guilted into making continual payments from their limited finances, to a cause that sees only a small proportion of the money?
      Not hard to see why people are becoming apathetic or even hostile towards this form of ‘donation’.

    • Ben says:

      04:18pm | 09/08/12

      Josh, have you ever heard the saying HTFU?

    • Horrible compassionate scum says:

      04:37pm | 09/08/12

      I’m more inclined to agree with this article than the other one. Collectively the majority are carnts.

    • Hungry hungry hippo says:

      05:15pm | 09/08/12

      I have outrage fatigue, as in the right-leaning, self pity bullshit variety. It could be charities or anything, the droning whine is the same.

    • Daniel says:

      06:27pm | 09/08/12

      Josh I cant speak for everyone buy here is why I dont like Chuggers.
      There are so many of you everywhere that I’m constantly being asked for money. So I developed a firm rule on being asked for money on the street a while ago that my answer would always be “No” as I seem to be a magnet for beggers and charities alike.
      Chuggers tend to rely on peoples guilt or unwillingness to be rude to start their pitch. Knowing that I’m going to say “no” at the end of my conversation and that I’ll be made to feel guilty/rude makes me feel annoyed with the chugger even before any contact has been made. Since I know I’m going to say “no” my usual way of dealing with chuggers is to ignore them or shake my head, sure I feel a little annoyed and rude and the chugger may feel a little insulted but at least I haven’t wasted my time and the chugger can get on with harassing someone else. However I’ve noticed lately that chuggers have found method that involves moving into your path, thus making it impossibe to ignore them (and as I’ve already said I’m annoyed to begin with) when they do this my annoyance turns to a mild anger “why sould I have to move out of my way for this prick can’t he tell I’m not intersested” I think to myself and I have therefore started to push them out of my path.
      I wonder where this will end, will the chuggers start bracing themselves aginst the push meaning the push becomes a shove? And when the chuggers figure out the way to stop the shove is to tackle the “mark” and the mark figures out that the best way to stop the tackle is punch the chugger and then the chuggers decide get around this by… Well you can see where I’m going with this.
      My point is how about just setting up a table with a few signs quickly explaining what you are about and at no time initiating contact with the public? If they want to give they will ask you.
      Otherwise bugger off

      P.S. I do give money every month, probably not as much as I could but as much as I’m willing to give

    • andye says:

      07:00pm | 09/08/12

      These people keep working in buildings I am working in and they take up the lifts for ages at various times by filling them all up with people and holding them for the stragglers. Beep. Beep. Beep.

      They wander around downstairs, pack out the coffee shop and eventually get in a minibus blasting its pathetic stereo system and off they go. Other times I have seem groups of them wandering down to central station with folding chairs and tables.

      Then I see them out on the street playing all sorts of manipulative games they have been taught. I just say “no” and walk on. Excuses are for the weak. One said to me as I walked away “Don’t you care about the rainforest?” I stopped and turned. “No, I don’t.” He just blinked a couple of times and I walked off again.

      If someone is trying to deceive and mislead me, if they are using manipulative psychological tactics against me in an aggressive face to face manner then they aren’t respecting me. I don’t see why I should respect them back, though I generally just ignore them as much as possible.

      Some people seem easily controlled by these tactics. You can see them stopped and looking a little panicked by the smiling backpacker in front of them. The questions and scripts are all based around a basic “YES” or “NO, plus I am a massive jerk” response.  (i.e. “Don’t you care about the rainforest?”) So it preys on the polite and those lacking in self-confidence.

      The charasites failed to respect themselves when they signed up for this nasty job. That is not my problem. I want to walk to lunch without being harassed for my credit card details.

    • James Heathers says:

      09:25pm | 09/08/12

      Hello Josh. I wrote that other article you didn’t like. This is a tops response. Let me outline a few things that I can see from my article, yours, and the comments here.

      * Firstly, the name - don’t take it seriously. It just rolls off the tongue nicely. And it’s a damn sight nicer than ‘chugger’.

      * I’m not doubting your good intentions, but I’m sure you recognise the tactics I wrote about. Charasites, in general, a) use high pressure sales tactics and b) this constitutes a form of psychological coercion. That much is uncontroversial. I wouldn’t doubt that you pitch from the heart. But your mates don’t.

      * A quick word on why people will blame you for the ills of the world when you’re identifiable as a charasite - because you’re depersonalised. The netball tunic they kit you guys out in is your worst enemy here. The colour doesn’t matter, nor any other other minor details, as it fits you into the prototype “charity collector”. <- might as well science it up here.

      * It’s really obvious that this is a *massive* button push for a lot of people. I wrote the original article with my tongue somewhat in my cheek - this is the Punch! - but the seriousness and the VITRIOL that some people seem to reserve for your charasitic brethren is a surprise to me. To all you angrypants out there, I’d say: people don’t stop being people when they’re in a netball smock and save bears for a living. There’s nothing wrong with “No, thanks.”

      Josh, let me know if you’re ever in Sydney - we can drink whisky and harass the Wilderness Society koala.


    • DJ says:

      11:22am | 10/08/12


      What I find interesting in the charity space is why we want to go to town on CEO’s of really big, complex operations like world vision for example for their $250,000 salary.

      Really these organisations are trying to tackle some of the truely big problems in society, do we really want anyone but the best people running them? And how many Peter Costellos are their out there really ie willing to take $250K when if we are all honest we know he could probably be earning in the millions as the CEO of a company selling burgers, or soft drink or any number of unimportant things.

      Same with charities being blasted for advertising, its fine for Harvey Norman to spend endless funds on telling us to buy a new plasma, but if a charity spends a fraction of that amount on asking people to help them with a socail problem, something we should want fixed, its wasteful and shameful behavior by the charity, as if the money they spend on Advertising would not in fact generate much larger amounts for the cause. Perhaps as a whole our society was not making life so difficult for charities, the need for so much face to face harder sales would be lessened, but how do we expect these organisations to raise anywhere near the funds needed to solve these important issue, the old volunteerism tin rattling stuff is fine and it helps it does not raise the sort of money needed to make the changes we should all want to see in society, in a timeframe that values the lives of those effected.

      In my view its time we considered that its not valuable concentrating on assesing a charity by how it spends the 30% - 40% most spend on making their business work, ask the charities the right question - show me how the 60% to 70% you spend on “the cause” makes a difference - thats how we should assess who donate to

    • Rob says:

      03:05pm | 10/08/12

      “[D]o we really want anyone but the best people running them? many Peter Costellos are their out there ...willing to take $250K when ...he could probably be earning in the millions as the CEO of a company “

      I’m not sure where this sentiment comes from, I think it might just be the old Goebbels thing about repeating a lie often enough.

      Charities are, by and large, the dumping grounds for exiled directors and corporate upper-ups. I’ve been privy to the goings on of a few of these large charities, the upper ranks being entirely inhabited by people who’s chief skill is utilising jargon.

      I think, in seriously reducing that wage, it might go some way to improving these organisations. I don’t think corporate failures are really the best people to be leading a charity, and I get the impression that being able to earn large salaries attracts them to it.

    • Andy of Sydney says:

      12:45pm | 10/08/12

      After all but getting mugged multiple times by chuggers using a combination of emotional blackmail, public humiliation and physical restraint, I can safely say that I am one of those people who will tell just about any charity worker where they can shove their pitches. I would make an exception for females simply because I am a male chauvinist pig who think that the fairer sex should be treated with respect and manners like, you know, opening doors for them and letting them go first. I would also make exceptions if I recognise the worker to be from one of the worthy charities on my (rapidly shrinking) list.

      UN affiliated charities, Greenpeace, Red Cross, Amnesty International and many of the international ones is likely to get a tirade instead of a coin. Chuggers, charasites and conmen the lot of them.

    • fitter says:

      02:47pm | 10/08/12

      I dont envy you guys, surely there has to be a better way to earn a living ? I think charity is important, but Im of the belief that ambush charity does little for the cause, in fact, it actively harms the brand. Take a leaf out of the salvos book. They seem to maintain healthy income from donations, yet dont ambush people on the street…

    • Diana says:

      08:14pm | 11/08/12

      I actually kind of hope they accost me so I can tell them exactly what I think of their charities and why. I have major ethical objections to many of the popular charities and I think it’s important that they know that people are paying attention. I will not give my money to the Salvation Army, RSPCA, WWF or to any of the cancer charities (I don’t buy anything with a pink ribbon on it, and I have had a breast scare myself). I have very solid ethical reasons for this and I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to tell them why.

      When I’m in a position to donate, I research smaller, more ethical orgs who operate on a shoestring. Mostly animal charities.

      Did you know Lost Dog’s Home is boasting increased revenue? Know what else they have? A 50% euthanasia rate. Salvos are anti-gay. Won’t even get started on the cancer charities but there’s a lot of info out there if you’re interested.

      And even if all of this were untrue, I reflexively baulk at salespeople of any kind being fake-friendly and trying to draw me into conversation. I would respect you more if you just straight-up asked for the cash.


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