Confessions of a Chugger

Confessions of a Chugger
London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom



**chugger noun a person who is paid to stand in a public place and ask people who pass by to make regular donations to a particular charity. From the phrase ‘charity mugger.’

For the past three weeks, I’ve been employed as a paid professional fundraiser for a company who basically train and recruit fundraisers, in return being paid a certain amount of money, generally out of the charity’s fundraising or advertising budgets. Fundraisers, to quote my supervisor are like “walking, talking flyers.” In this time, my team worked with two different charities – one a human rights on and the other, a charity that exists mainly to promote socialisation for older people.

Today, I put in my resignation, effective immediately. And to be fair, I haven’t stopped smiling since.

It’s not as fun or easy as it sounds. And I’m not even sure if it sounds at all fun or easy. The turnover rate is very high! About 20 new staff come in every week, and I imagine that it would be a similar number going out.

There were a couple of moments where I cursed myself for going for an outdoor job in London for goodness sake! By day two, I had worked in rain, hail and shine. I am not a master at the use of the humble umbrella – arc against the wind!!

But all in all, I am grateful for the experience. In some ways, it was a good job for me, I’m quite a fan of charities and also quite enjoy talking to the odd stranger. So perfect! Not really. 🙂 Turns out it’s not just about talking, it’s about persuasively encouraging them to hand over bank details to make a spontaneous, yet long term decision to join a chairty, “making a small monthly donation”, usually around the five or six pound mark.

It has certainly been good for the old ego; without exaggerating, I was probably asked out on average five or six times every day. And I would easily have had one or two job offers every day. These ranged from other charity fundraising companies, to homecare nursing, to chamber maid to martial arts instructing!! Most of the signups I made (NB. not all, yay!) were probably more because the male thought I was a bit of alright, rather than any skillful and empowering motivational discussions I might have held.

Something good about the job is that I was in a different part of London everyday. So I definitely saw parts of London I may not necessarily have chosen to visit. Hounslow being one of those places. Not far from the airport, it’s a rather low socioeconomic area and so multicultural.

I wish I could remember all all of the interesting conversations I had. Good and bad; the people you meet is a defininite highlight of the job. You talk with people from all walks. I spoke to a guy who had a plastic bag with a couple of belongings in it – apparently he’d just that minute been released from eight months in gaol. I had a rather lengthy conversation with a very intelligent man who was homeless. One standout was with this lady who wore a burkah and her daughter. Terrible but true, I had never really had a conversation with a lady who wears the full burkah, I don’t think, and she was so clever and witty and compassionate! Another memorable conversation was with a man who believed that women deserve to be raped and children who are starving bring it upon themselves. Horrible! He’d thought it all out too, had all this complex reasoning. I was verbally abused a few times too – one guy getting right into my face and screaming at me to leave him alone, after I asked him rather nicely, I might add, if I could talk to him for a sec. Another, almost dignified looking older gentlemen, wafter I asked him if he had a moment, replied “If you’re not asking me for a shag, f*** off.” I quickly informed him that no, this was not what I was after and wished him a good afternoon, to which he wished me likewise.

We often had to work fairly long hours, and plenty of unpaid overtime. The most ridiculous moment I had in my whole charity fundraising career was at about 7:45pm on a darkish, rainy Friday afternoon. On the whole it had been a fairly unsucessful day for the whole team, which was why we were still out there long after we had stopped getting paid. Anyhow, I was standing on Oxford St, nasty, misbehaving, souveneir umbrella emblazened with “I LOVE LONDON” in one hand, folder in the other and trying to stop people to get them to sign up to the charity. I was standing there for a little while giggling at the ridiculousness of it! (a) it was Friday night and who is going to want to stop on a Friday night, (b) it was Oxford St and we hadn’t really stopped anyone all day and (c) it was raining!!

The camraderie is great in this sort of job. There were about five of us on the team, mostly in our twenties. My boss was always horribly enthusiastic and positive, even when it was hard to see why. The team get along really well and we bounce off each other’s energy.

Fun experience, although glad it’s over, looking forward to seeing what’s next.


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