Confessions Of An Ex-Chugger

Today, I have a double shift. I’m sure you can sense how thrilled I am. Well, you might not be able to, vibes are difficult to pick up through a computer screen…but it isn’t all that thrilled. But I take comfort in the fact that it is about a thousand times better then when I was street fundraising.

That’s right, ladies and gents, I have a confession to make. I was a chugger.

I left very quickly though. For a whole variety of reasons…I didn’t like standing for 8 hours in the rain , I didn’t like having nothing but McDonalds to eat for lunch as it was cheap and quick, the sore feet, the abuse you got – but mainly I didn’t like the way that particular company did things.

Now, my fellow chuggers were lovely. They were all working hard to do something good for charity. No one meant to annoy anyone or go against what the law said we should be doing. But we were never taught the legalities of it, and the line became blurry between what was acceptable and what wasn’t for some.

I wasn’t good at it. Really I wasn’t. I wasn’t bolshy or pushy enough to stop anyone. People would tend to shake their head and scurry away or, in one particularly unpleasant man’s case, hit me with their Macbook Pro.  And that was fine. Well, not being hit. That smarted. But people saying no, I figured ‘Okay, on to the next one’. But I was told to go after them. Chase. Make the kill as it were.

Obviously not literally.

Now I’m a telephone fundraiser, and I’m loving it. The office is nice, you’re supported and you there’s always help on hand. It’s for a different company and they do things differently. You’re taught legal necessities, the dos and the don’ts. And my favourite bit? It’s transparent with it’s finances. For every person we speak to on the phone we HAVE to say how much the company is paid for the campaign, and how much we’re expected to raise. 

I always wondered how professional fundraising worked to the benefit of the charity, I wondered how much money they put into it, but now I know…and I like that we’re honest. Not that we were ever dishonest before, we would always say we were paid, but not even us chuggers knew how much the company would be paid overall. (Excuse the repetition of ‘the company’, but I’m not gonna mention any names, I could get into trouble…) It’s refreshing to work somewhere that genuinely does seem to make a difference.

In the last 4 years, it’s raised over £100 million for charity. Now that, I feel, is pretty damn good, and I feel happy and kind of privileged to go into work and know that I’m making some little difference. I didn’t feel that way in the last job. Plus I get to chat to people, lord knows I love a good chat. 

It can be annoying when the telephone fundraiser gives you a call…but part of our job is simply to raise awareness of what the charity actually does as well, and it is important. 

Oh, I nearly forgot the most awesome part. We only call people who have expressed an interest in the charity already. Doesn’t mean everyone is always happy to hear from us, but it does mean we’re not cold callers. 

Actually, there’s an even more awesome part. We get headsets. When I’m not on the phones I play around pretending to be ‘M’. You know, out of James Bond? “You need to get out of there 007…now!”

I’d make a great M. Perhaps one day I’ll be in MI5, wearing a headset and saving the world with it. But for now, my headset is a fundraising headset, and…well actually I’m gonna look at it like I’m saving the world one pound at a time…or going for world domination. Hmm. I am good at evil laughs.

Any way, being a chugger…it was hard. I didn’t enjoy it, in all honesty. A lot of people did but it wasn’t for me. And despite what I’m saying, no one on the street is trying to do wrong, be dishonest or unhelpful. We were all just there to try and make a difference and earn some money. A lot were students. But it was misguided, I feel. 

I’m glad not to be there now. Least I get a comfy office chair and a cup of coffee on the go. So no more complaining. And hi ho, it’s off to work I go. 

2 thoughts on “Confessions Of An Ex-Chugger”

    1. Yeah it was a lot better. They let me go though as I wasn’t persuasive (aka pushy) enough on the phones and didn’t quite hit targets, but I’m still with the temping agency and I’ve gained quite a lot of paid hours from them, so to be honest I’m not overly gutted! I guess professional fundraising just isn’t for me. It does get a bit soul destroying after a while, and you do need to be a certain kind of person to do it – that’s what everyone there kept telling me. Guess I’m not that kind of person?! Oh well!
      And I did want to hit that person back. Or break their mac book. I mean how rude. I also got told by someone I had an annoying voice, and various other insults. It wasn’t a job I enjoyed.

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