OPINION: HOT ISSUE - Does being approached by a street fundraiser annoy you?

As the row within the sector about the pros and cons of face-to-face fundraising rumbles on, and the Institute of Fundraising rallies support for an education campaign, Third Sector conducted its own poll asking shoppers on the streets of London for their views on being approached in the street by a fundraiser.

Angela Willock, 19, outdoor ticket seller - NO

It depends how they approach me. If they are nice I find myself 'guilt-tripped' into signing up.

My guilt trips come from street fundraisers overplaying the connection that my money would have on starving children or homeless people. A combination of aggressive marketing and my dwindling finances have turned me away from them. I've now reached my limit and no longer stop through fear of my heart ruling my head.

Many salesmen in my work, selling tickets on the street for club nights and other events, shout out: "I'm not a charity!" and people then tend to stop for them. I suppose they are playing on the negative image that aggressive charity fundraising has accrued. Personally, I don't feel comfortable saying that, because it implies that there is something wrong with charity.

By comparison, I'd say that one in 15 people will stop for me, whereas one in 50 stop for the charity fundraisers I've observed and consulted with working on the same street.

Sahar Elgali, 46, community development worker - YES

I don't like it when street fundraisers try to stop me because sometimes I don't have enough money to give, and feel embarrassed. Once, one of them even chased me down the street.

They should have stalls in shopping centres to provide people with information about what they do, rather than harassing people. Also, they never say that they are paid professionals. I'd always assumed that they were volunteers.

Charities like Oxfam and World Vision have shops and fundraisers all over the UK, but where does our money go? I see products from Africa on sale in their shops, but what do they actually do on the ground? I am from Sudan and have never seen them at work there. I think street fundraisers should provide concrete information about what the charity they are representing does.

I support Amnesty International because I know what they are doing. They produce reports and leaflets that inform people about human rights across the world.

Fiona Waring, 18, history of art student - NO

I know that loads of people find it annoying because my ex-boyfriend was a street fundraiser for a few months. He used to tell me how many times he'd been sworn at. It tended to be about 20 times a day.

People are very touchy about being approached in the street. They do see it as quite an invasion, especially in London, where there are so many street fundraisers.

It might have something to do with English reserve, but I think they walk on by because once they do stop, they tend to feel obliged to sign up through guilt.

I used to avoid people in bibs on the street, but I don't now because I know the detrimental effect it had on my ex-boyfriend. I stop out of politeness because I understand that these people have lives too. But as a poor student I don't ever give.

However, I don't think face-to-face works. It doesn't seem cost-effective for the £8 an hour they used to pay my ex, compared with the amount he made for the charity.

Kevin Marron, 59, Big Issue vendor - YES

I do get annoyed with their high-pressure selling techniques, which I don't use to sell the Big Issue. I don't even call out its name any more because people are drawn by my appearance.

Street fundraisers are almost manic in their endeavour. Those I've witnessed use techniques that lack subtlety and the vast majority become frustrated.

Rather than realising they are creating resistance, their lack of success seems to egg them on to become more flamboyant.

It's unlikely that this technique, employed mostly by young men, will persuade people to give money. Whoever came up with this method needs to rethink it and wise-up the younger fundraisers.

I think more mature people should do the job. I'd do it for Greenpeace if it gave me security, but it won't. Many young fundraisers seem more concerned with their own wages than the causes they are selling.

Rather than saying 'sign up now', fundraisers should adopt a softer approach, with leaflets detailing what their money does. Charities should avoid aggressive selling tactics, or the public will soon connect it to all charities and stop giving.

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