Face-to-face fundraisers criticised by Wellington City councillor say they have a code of professionalism.

With a big smile and confident jump in her step, the charity worker cheerfully calls out to a young man who happens to make eye contact with her as he walks past.

Like greeting an old friend, she says: "Hi! How are you today?"

The young man looks a little taken aback, but after a second or two, offers her a smile: "I'm good, thanks."

The charity worker knows this is her chance and she begins her spiel; talking to the man about the work her charity does and how he can help them help others.


Chuggers - a mix of "charity" and "muggers" - have been in the news this week after Wellington City councillor Iona Pannett called them out for mild harassment.

"There's a bit of pressure that goes on to support the organisation and it could be seen as a form of mild harassment even if it is done politely and with good intentions," she told Newstalk ZB.

This week, the Weekend Herald headed out to the streets of the Auckland CBD to see how charity workers approached people.

Of the five charity groups the newspaper spoke to this week, all had workers who were non-Kiwi. They had strong American, South American, Indian or British accents.

None of the workers appeared to be overly pushy or acted in a way that might be offensive. If a member of the public refused to sign up, they got a polite thank you and a cheery "have a good day".

Workers never specifically asked anyone to stop for a chat, but used other conversational methods to get people's attention - such as mentioning the weather, asking how they were or inquiring as to where they were headed.

One worker told the publication he had worked in face-to-face fundraising for four years with his organisation.

He could easily quote facts and figures, the countries they were involved in and how many people they had helped to feed, clothe and school.

He could also list - and act out - all the tricks people used to side-step them: Pretending to be on the phone, sticking headphones in the ears at the last minute or crossing the road.

Chief executive of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, Karen Ward, said they worked closely with groups to ensure all workers were polite and friendly when approaching the public.

"All PFRA members are committed to the highest standards of professionalism."

She acknowledged Ms Pannett's comments, but stressed their continued work with charities to maintain professionalism.

The Auckland Council controls how many charity groups are out at any one time and regularly grants around 24 licences for groups to do so throughout the year.

This month, there are 13 charities in Auckland suburbs and downtown. They are given a list of locations they are allowed to be throughout the day and have to adhere to specific rules; including having no more than four people at any one site.

The council's team leader for bylaws and compliance, Adrian Wilson, said this type of fundraising was allowed under the Street Trading Bylaws and acknowledged that groups had the right to be there.

The charities

• Child Fund
• Save The Children
• Amnesty International
• Greenpeace
• IHC (New Zealand's Society for the Intellectually Disabled)

'Rigorous training' for fundraising's frontline

It's not easy effectively asking a stranger for money. And charities say they give strict instructions to their workers before they head out to the fundraising frontline.

Amnesty International's frontline campaign co-ordinator, Eleanor Parkes, said they gave "rigorous training" for all their frontline workers to ensure professionalism while carrying out their work.

"Amnesty International ... selects individuals who will adequately represent the organisation and holds campaigners to the highest professional standards of conduct.
"The vast majority of feedback we get on our street team is positive, and any complaints from members of the public are dealt with promptly."

Ms Parkes said this form of fundraising was vital, in that it helped to attract passionate people who wanted to engage in the work they did around the world.

A spokeswoman for Save The Children said they, too, provided training for those working on the streets.

"We demand and expect that our fundraisers are courteous, respectful and friendly with members of the public and that they leave people with a positive impression of our organisation - regardless of whether they decide to support us or not."