Chuggers. Where do you stand? Annoying, clip-board wielding students impeding your route to Top Shop, or essential front line fundraisers helping to keep our charities afloat?
Whatever your stance (and ours, we have to admit on occasion, is “pick phone up, pretend you’re having a conversation, recalculate route…”) it looks like the ‘charity mugger’ is about to become something of an endangered species. At least, that’s one of the options currently under discussion…
SevenStreets understands that City Central Bid, the management team that works in partnership with shops and businesses from Bold Street to Lord Street, Mathew Street and St John’s Lane, is reviewing their policy, with the view to curtailing the ever-proliferating, and frankly deathly, press-ganger’s cry of ‘Can I ask you a quick question…’
There was a time, of course, when a smile, a quid and a sticker was the sum total of the encounter. Flag days, and Scouts packing your bags at Sainsburys. Ah, innocent times. Now, with charities appealing for regular monthly standing orders, the exchange has been taken to a whole new level. And with upwards of 20 or so fundraisers strategically placed along Church Street and Lord Street, there’s a definite step-change in the way we navigate our town centre.
Add to this the privatised streets of Liverpool ONE being (mostly) charity-free zones, and you begin to see why the beleagured businesses of our city’s core are beginning to think that, erm, charity begins at home. Or at least at the tills.
City Central Bid are going to be watching Manchester City Council very closely over the next month while they dot the i’s of their new proposal – over there, the council has limited clipboard fundraising to just three days a week, and at just four dedicated zones.
City Co, their city centre management company, has drafted the joint agreement in conjunction with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), adding Manchester to a growing list of 39 other UK towns and cities creating a framework to ensure charities, businesses and shoppers can carve out some kind of compromise.
“The new agreement is a breakthrough,” City Co says, “which acknowledges charities’ legal right to fundraise on streets as well as the ensuring that Manchester city centre remains a pleasant place to work.”
It’s an emotive issue. SevenStreets understands that it’s a tough time for charities. We just wonder whether soliciting for bank account details from part-time (commission-paid) collectors in a public place has ever been the fairest, most equitable, or effective way to raise awareness, or funds, for worthwhile causes.
Yes, we’ve signed up to a couple, but we’ve also been made to feel guilty when we’ve declined. It’s times like these that makes one wonder – left unregulated, doesn’t the whole phenomena create more ill will to good causes than anything? We know there’s a Public Fundraising Authority , but evidence that they’re in the business of curtailing, or even policing the activities of part-time fundraisers in our city centre streets is, to put it mildly, scant.
What do you think? City Central Bid is in the final stages of working out a new framework, but we bet they’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this most contentious of modern dilemmas…