The Cost of Chuggers

Apparently, charities are paying out to fundraising companies more than the donor the chugger signs up will pay in a year – or in some cases, longer.

Fees paid to fundraising companies by UK charities for recruiting new donors often effectively wipe out the amount a person gives, Newsnight has learned.

Charities pay tens of millions of pounds every year to subcontracted firms who sign people up to direct debits on the street or doorstep.

But in some cases, it would take the average donor more than a year to cover the fee – the equivalent of about £100.


The British Heart Foundation confirmed it paid the equivalent of £136 per signature. Cancer Research UK said it paid an average of £112 to recruit each donor and in total paid face-to-face fundraisers £3m a year. Guide Dogs said it paid out nearly £2m annually.

Christian Aid, Save the Children, Great Ormond Street, Amnesty and others also pay additional millions.

So if you think your money is going to the charity, think again. Then there’s the staff to pay and the executives with thier fat salaries.

Apparently, though, we are looking at it all wrong…

But Mr Aldridge said that although the costs of this sort of fundraising may be large, but they are justified by the returns.

“It may look to the outsider – to the uninformed outsider – as if all of their first-year donation is going to go to a third party but that’s not the only way of looking at it,” he said.

“And in my view, and in the view of most charities, it is not the most transparent and constructive way of looking at it.”

Ah, so we uninformed outsiders can’t do maths. It looks pretty straightforward to me – charities pay out money given in good faith to companies that are making a handsome profit. Not that I’ve anything against profit, but that is not why people give.

He added that overall the charities get £3-£4 back for every pound they pay the subcontractors, which he said was an excellent return on an investment.

I call that spin – but I’m being charitable.

All of that said, none of my charitable giving goes to these companies because I do as Umbongo does.

Always, always give locally and directly to a charity (preferably not one of the biggies – and never one which employs chuggers) or individuals or organisations that you know.

Good advice.


  1. This is fascinating though, because many of these so-called charities devote most of their efforts to lobbying for draconian laws to interfere in people’s lives. Including at least one of the examples given there. Not to mention all the other distinctly uncharitable behaviour many of them engage in.

    Does this mean I can hit them in the pocket by signing up for a direct debit and then cancelling it after the first payment? I have a big list of ‘charities’ I would willingly ‘donate’ £10 to, if I could be sure the act of doing so would cost them £100.

  2. I have just had RSPCA at my door for this purpose and apart from anything else I couldn’t actually understand the lad so didnt know how much he was asking for! What a waste of money

  3. Kate Humble’s RSPB gives chuggers £100 per direct debit signed up – and they get £21 MILLION a year from gubmint – i.e. your money = 30p each if you agree or not – how twisted is that?

    But then Kate is a BeeBoid through and through and can’t see the problem…….

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