Surviving The Hard Sell

Do you often get stopped by people wanting your money? Struggle to avoid them? Read on…

I work in Glasgow city centre. I often walk along Buchanan Street, one of Britain’s busiest shopping streets, during my lunch break, or after work, going from place to place. Often, my walk is thwarted – or interrupted momentarily – by someone accosting me on behalf of some nice ethical charity or organisation, like Save the Children, Shelter or Amnesty International. And they always want my money.

At first, it was quite interesting, but I was also found to be quite off-guard. A very nice, pretty woman approached me, telling me all about this brilliant charity, Shelter, who do wonders helping Scotland’s homeless. It was a touching story. It was hard not to see the wonderful job they do. Of course, they weren’t after a one-off donation, but a direct debit. I was reluctant, but the woman was persistent. She had a sparkle in her eye. I couldn’t quite muster enough willpower to say “no” and walk away.

In the end, I gave in. I signed. I don’t know how much it was £2 a month, £5 a month, I don’t know. But later that week, I felt like I’d been mugged. Yet, it still took me at least six months to cancel the direct debit.

But at least twice a week now, I come across people raising money for charities, and, if you take a walk down Buchanan Street, or many other streets across Britain, you will see the sport that is pedestrians desperately trying to avoid street fundraisers. People zig-zag along, trying to desperately avoid the gaze of the dangerous men and women in red uniforms, or pretend they are busy, rushing somewhere, or that they are deaf. So, just how can you avoid fundraisers, past the standard head-down, march on past approach?

Some of the following suggestions may be more morally dubious than others. Wrestle your own conscience (and then try them anyway!)

  1. Sprint really fast. They’ll never catch you. They won’t run. All they do is wave at you. Most of the fundraisers are probably liberal social studies graduates who can’t find a job. They haven’t ever seen a pair of running shoes in their lives.
  2. Carry around a prop, like a suitcase, and wheel it behind you. They will assume you are off to the airport and won’t want you to miss your flight. You can safely walk on by.
  3. Walk closer to a fundraiser of the same sex. The men always target women; the women target men. The laws of sexual attraction dictate that targeting a member of the opposite sex is more likely to be successful. Men never try to stop me. The women smile and try to draw me in… don’t give them the option!
  4. When they start talking to you, say, “I’m really pleased you want to talk to me about Shelter/Amnesty/whoever, but let me tell you about Jesus first!” – they won’t. They’ll accept the battle is lost.
  5. Say, “actually, I already give 110% of my earnings to charity, and I gave my house away too” – although, they’ll probably call you a liar.
  6. Creep up behind someone who is facing in the same direction as you, then race past. They won’t even see you.
  7. If you’re walking with someone else, let them be the target.
  8. As you approach the fundraiser, shout in a loud voice, “I don’t care about starving Africans!” Note: some onlookers will find this funny. These people get the joke. Everyone else will look like they want to kill you. And the bleeding heart liberal who’s after your money will probably start crying.
  9. Walk a different way. This is hard when they’re outside Starbucks and you want to go there. They are not outside Starbucks or the Apple store by chance. It’s actually an evil a calculated plan.
  10. Ask them how much they’re paid to ask you for your money, then tell them they could just donate their pay back to the charity…
  11. Start talking to them, but carry on walking. They have to stop eventually, because they have boundaries within which they much operate. On Buchanan Street, the people outside the galleries have to operate between Sainsbury’s and the road by Starbucks. Once you walk past there, you have a hug goodbye. Aww, shame.
  12. Dress up like a hobo. I shouldn’t think they’ll bother asking you for money then.
So, next time you walk past a street fundraiser, don’t get angry, annoyed or despondent. Have a little fun at their expense…

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