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noun [countable]

a person who is paid to stand in a public place and ask people who pass by to make regular donations to a particular charity


noun [uncountable]

'Seen by many as the scourge of shoppers, chuggers can be uncompromising in their pursuit of a slice of strangers' disposable income, yet provide a rich source of funds for charities.'

The Observer 9th March 2003

'Face-to-face fundraising, where people are asked to sign direct debits to charity on the street, is controversial … the technique has been dubbed "charity mugging" – or "chugging" – by those who resent being stopped by bib-wearing fundraising teams.'

The Guardian 27th November 2003

The UK Government Minister for charities, Fiona Mactaggart, described the term chugger as 'common parlance' in a December 2003 interview with The Guardian newspaper. The term, first coined in the UK in 2002, has recently attracted particular interest amidst discussion of a forthcoming charities bill, announced in the Queen's Speech of November 2003. Chuggers are those bright, smartly-dressed individuals stationed on the streets and in shopping centres who, brandishing clipboards in the style of market researchers, approach people about making regular donations to charity.

income is dependent on the number of people signed up for regular giving, so chuggers are expected to raise a minimum amount per day

Chuggers, often young people such as students needing to earn extra cash, are employed by fundraising companies who have contracts with charities. The income of these businesses is dependent on the number of people signed up for regular giving, so chuggers are expected to raise a minimum amount per day or risk losing their job. They do not work on commission however, being paid a flat rate of around £8 per hour.

Background – chugger

The term chugger was coined from a blend of the words charity and mugger. The uncountable noun chugging is used to refer to the practice itself, a blend of charity and mugging. These origins reflect a largely negative attitude to 'face-to-face' fundraisers. Many people don't like being approached on the street, perceiving this as a rather aggressive way to raise money. However in reality, chuggers themselves are often the more vulnerable party, the perception that they are annoying often leading to verbal and physical abuse from passers-by.

Despite opposition and scepticism about the profit-making motives of fund-raising companies, it looks like chugging is here to stay. Face-to-face fundraising has become an invaluable source of income for charities, who, it is estimated, receive between 85p and 93p from every pound given to a chugger.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 12th December 2003.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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