≡ Menu

Dodging The Confrontational Charity Worker

I came across a situation today that I would love to hear your opinions on!

I was visiting my local shopping centre and made my way into a newsagents to buy a few things I needed. I’m heavily pregnant and was hoping to get in and out as quickly as possible so I could make my way home and put my feet up! Upon entering the shop, I noticed a charity worker had been positioned inside the store at the entrance/exit and was asking each person upon leaving for a few moments of their time to donate some money toward Dementia Support. Whilst browsing, I heard the charity worker ask each and every individual that attempted to leave “before you shoot off – did you know dementia/Alzheimer’s *insert fact about how common it is*”. ALL customers that were targeted when leaving were quite abrupt to the charity worker and replied with a “no” or a “not interested” and squeezed past him to leave.

I soon realised that there was no way I could simply leave the shop without having to interact with the charity worker as he was blocking the door whilst he approached each and every customer. I paid for my items and made to leave – and of course, he stands in my way and starts asking me about my knowledge of dementia and whether or not I am willing to donate a monthly sum to the cause. I didn’t want to be rude to this man – my grandad is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and it’s devastating to watch a man I saw (and still see) as a father figure fade more and more each day. I also understand that CW is doing his job so for me to respond with a brisk “Not interested” didn’t feel right. I was tired and wanted to get home and having my exit blocked by someone wanting me to pay money each month was just irritating and a bit rude, I thought.

I was polite to the CW but I feel my mistake was telling him that my Grandad has the disease and as a family, we live and breathe it with him day in day out (we are very close). He took this as an opportunity to push the fact that I should be giving money each month to the cause. I was caught off guard and felt incredibly guilty for my comment – “I would rather not sign up to a monthly plan at this time but Thank you”. The CW looked at me as though I was a horrible person for being directly effected and not putting my hand in my pocket. He mumbled a “oh.. ok..” and moved out of my way so I could leave.

I feel I could have handled this better but I’m not sure how. Admittedly, I just wanted to get home and CW wasn’t going to let me out until I’d given him a good enough reason to be LET out, it seems. I find street charity workers approaching me when I’m walking very uncomfortable and awkward.

My question to you lovely people is – how do you handle this type of situation? Is there a polite way to DECLINE giving to charity?! (Not that I’m adverse to doing so! I give to a few different causes regularly but just not in this “sign up on a street corner or in a public place” way). 0531-18

And the shop manager didn’t have a problem with his customers being confronted in this manner?

He may be doing a job but how he’s doing that job is a matter of his own choice.   I can’t imagine a legitimate charity wanting the face of their organization to be that of manipulation and physical blocking of a customer’s exit from a building.   There is nothing wrong with a terse, “No, thank you” to someone whom you have no obligation to explain yourself and who is being a rude to the point of blocking your egress from the shop.

{ 77 comments }
{ 77 comments… add one }
  • AFS June 4, 2018, 8:11 am

    Oh charity muggers–a.k.a. chuggers. Especially on days the weather is nice, the streets of NYC are rife with them. I can’t speak authoritatively in the case of @OP but often around here, the street canvassers are employed by a third-party group that pays its employees minimum wage. The company then forces the charities to pay “processing fees” to receive the funds the minimum-wage employees have collected on the group’s behalf. They’re known for blocking your way, waving in your face, and using manipulative tactics (One canvasser even tried negging me).

    Move away quickly and don’t make eye contact.

  • Vic June 4, 2018, 8:31 am

    He blocked the exit to force you to listen to him and you’re worried about being polite to him? As far as I’m concerned, he lost any rights when he tried to physically keep you from leaving. A simple “no thank you” is the most he deserved. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been that polite. In a different situation where he stationed himself next to the door, but not blocking the exit, I would answer differently. I would still decline to have a conversation since I don’t give to charities who solicit me in public. But, I would have been nice about it since he’s only doing his job and presumably feels passionately about his cause. But, when someone tries to physically force me to do anything, that throws me into high alert, and I am not nice when that happens.

    • Dee June 4, 2018, 10:56 am

      Yeah, I don’t get OP’s urge to be polite. The exit is blocked, deliberately. That is a safety concern. I would react as if my safety was at issue. As in, “Are you trying to prevent me from leaving the store?!?” and if the person didn’t move, I’d warn them, very loudly, that I was going out the door, whether they moved or not. And then either shove them out of the way or scream that I’m being held hostage. Because absolutely nobody in that store knows if you yourself have an emergency and have to leave immediately, and preventing you from doing so could result in very bad consequences.

      But worry about being polite to someone who is aggressive and attempting to physically hold me inside a room? That’s not normal or acceptable, and OP’s concern about being polite leads me to question whether she can handle herself in far more serious situations. It’s fairly basic self-defense, 101.

  • Liz June 4, 2018, 8:31 am

    Ugh. We get that here, usually schools or other organizations, kids, soliciting fund for their team, activity etc. And some of them can be a bit annoying as they pounce on you as soon as you exit the store or hover just outside the entrance, even if they have a table set up to the side. I usually just keep walking and say politely “no thank you” as i’m moving along to my car. I don’t engage, or JADE. I don’t have kids, and many times the store in question isn’t in the town I live in, so the group isn’t local to me either.

    • Queen of the Weezils June 4, 2018, 9:35 am

      JADE? I’m not familiar with that. Could you explain, please?

      • Lerah99 June 4, 2018, 9:50 am

        JADE – Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain

        When dealing with pushy sales people, drunks hitting on you in a bar, narcissists or difficult family members you shouldn’t JADE. It just gives them an opening to continue the conversation or try to “win” the argument.

        • Queen of the Weezils June 4, 2018, 10:18 am

          Got it, and I agree. Thank you for the explanation!

        • Liz June 4, 2018, 2:10 pm

          Exactly. Like when they call you at home, asking for money. Just say no thank you and hang up. that’s what I do. I’m polite, but in my younger years would go on about how i couldn’t afford to donate anything etc. and it wouldn’t deter them. So now i just do that, or walk by and say no thank you as i do.

      • JAN June 4, 2018, 10:44 am

        I believe JADE is from Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear,” a great read for everyone.

  • Saucygirl June 4, 2018, 8:33 am

    I agree, totally on store to ensure they aren’t obnoxious and harassing their shoppers. My daughter is in girl scouts so we had booths at a local grocery store. Management was very clear with what was acceptable and what wasn’t, and regularly checked on us to make sure following.

    One day when we were there a young mom stationed herself at door with her baby and a sign, approaching everyone begging for money. Two employees from a gym also came over, and were walking up to everyone, actually touching their arms to try to get them to stop. I felt so horrible for the shoppers, who were being bombarded by them. I had faith in the management though, and sure enough within 10 minutes they came out and not only got rid of the solicitors, but apologized to my girls and I for it happening! They told me they had five complaints in the 10 minutes it took them to get handled. No one likes obnoxious!

    • pennywit June 4, 2018, 12:18 pm

      I recall one of these Girl Scout cookie tables. The girls had arranged for the tiniest girl to say in a tiny voice, “Would you like to buy some cookies?”

      How am I supposed to say no?

      • rindlrad June 4, 2018, 5:32 pm

        Ahhh Girl Scout cookies…so many good weight-loss intentions lost to your delicious, siren call.

        There’s a comedian, I can’t remember his name, who does a whole bit about how he’s been “clean” for almost a year and then the Girl Scouts show up on his doorstep selling cookies. It’s funny because it’s true.

        Great, now I want Thin Mints.

        • saucygirl June 4, 2018, 6:45 pm

          I’ve seen that comedian. He’s hysterical. And it’s very true. I know because in addition to buying from my daughter, I bought from a friends niece in a different state, because they had the better smores. 🙂

        • essie June 5, 2018, 10:14 am

          (A) Try saying “No” to Girl Scouts in Savannah, GA!

          (B) Forget the Thin Mints; they don’t work. I ate a box and didn’t notice any difference, so I thought perhaps i hadn’t eaten enough. Even after eating a dozen boxes, I didn’t get thin!

          • rindlrad June 6, 2018, 4:41 pm

            🙂 That made me actually LOL.

            I’ve been doing Weight Watchers. I was wondering – if I entered “Girl Scout Cookies – Thin Mints – Serving Size 1 Box” into the app would it give me the actual number of points or would it just say “You Can’t Be Serious!”

      • It's Me June 4, 2018, 5:59 pm

        Easy. Just say “no.”

        Or say “No, thank you.”

        Or say “No, thank you. I just bought a few dozen yesterday, and it will take me forever to eat them all.”

        You could say any of the above in your normal voice or in a tiny voice. It’s up to you.

      • staceyizme June 4, 2018, 9:54 pm

        Girl Scout cookies can be an addiction. If the kids are asking, okay. When coworkers and family members bring order sheets to the office, church or a group gathering, that’s a bit much. I kind of admire the parents who refuse to do the fund raising and just send a donation, if they choose to. More direct and less stressful.

        • NostalgicGal June 5, 2018, 4:59 am

          A family owned business did this, brought the daughter’s cookie flyer in. I was shopping and mom just held it up. I told her (the truth) I was a good soft touch for a large order, but. The scout had to sell me the cookies. When I was the age I had to go out and hustle my cookies (not from a card table). It was part of the learning. The mother thought about it, agreed, and arranged for her daughter to stop by work after school a few days later. I made sure to come in, stepped by to the office, and an 8 year old who was pretty petrified, tried to sell me cookies. I was very patient and understanding, asked a few questions which she was able to answer (big ball of nerves she was) and filled in an order for 23 boxes. Then I asked about ‘how much did I owe’ and ‘when will my order arrive’? She had to look up when they would arrive. Her third grade math wasn’t up to how much, so I gave her a few gentle pointers how to break down the math (add up subgroups then add those up for a final total) and find my answer about how much. After concluding business I returned to the shop floor and finished shopping. Her mother said later that did change her daughter. And she thanked me for making the girl do it. A) well known person to the mother B) safe location C) Parent was there. When they came in, I picked up from the store and daughter was there with a lot of her customers picking up from there so still supervised… In first grade I had to do all that (my biggest single order I can tell you was five boxes. One fellow ordered one of everything they sold at the time and a few of the boxes were priced differently depending on what they were) and I had to total orders. When they came and delivered I had to collect money, and make change. Yeah. Experience is a far cry from a card table outside a store….

          • saucygirl June 5, 2018, 5:44 am

            I agree that it should be the girls selling. I am actually our troop leader, and I tell my parents and kids that I don’t want the parents doing the selling, that the girls need to put in the effort.

            My daughter definitely does the door to door hustle, and has learned a lot from it, and has seen the benefit from doing it by the number of cookies she sales. But she has also learned a lot from the card table outside the table, which I think is just as valuable, if done right. I don’t let chairs at our tables – there is no lounging waiting for people to come to them. They have to stand and be actively trying to sell. They learn to approach people, to focus, to multi task, to accept rejection graciously, to be responsible and to act appropriately. They hone their math skills. They even learn how to have their etiquette back bone when some of the people start conversations that are not appropriate. And while they can learn some of this going door to door, it really isn’t the same experience.

          • LovleAnjel June 5, 2018, 1:54 pm

            I had to do it all door-to-door too, by myself no less. One of the houses I knocked on gave me a toy – apparently they had been asked by the Council to give one to any Scout who came by selling things, to encourage the kids.

        • Devin June 5, 2018, 9:01 am

          I rely on at least one of my coworkers bringing in a sheet to get my annual cookie fix! Last year we had no one with Girl Scouts in my office (and I live in a large city where grocery stores do not have parking lots and private walkways for tables unless you drive out into the burbs) so I didn’t get any cookies. This year I already have a friend several states away who will be shipping my large order to me and anyone else in my office who wants cookies.

      • Susan. Haverland June 6, 2018, 10:18 am

        Hard to say no . I say I don’t have cash but a debit card only . Or I bought some recently from my neighbors. I honestly had a young adult asked to me can I go to the bank
        Card in the store for $ 20.00. My reply I work for my Money not to give it away
        . A manager came out and told her to leave . Lot of nerve asking .

  • Kelly T June 4, 2018, 8:57 am

    I had to report a charity worker outside a store last fall. He tried to engage me, and I said “No, thanks.” He then moved to *physically block my way* and “jokingly” chided me for not just giving him a quick second, and tried to negotiate that he could talk to me after I finished shopping.

    You guys. 1) Physical restriction and intimidation. 2) Emotional manipulation. 3) Bargaining with me about my declared boundaries and responses. No, no, and no. This is straight out of toxic masculinity/rape culture’s playbook.

    I snapped “Learn to take no for an answer,” and went inside and reported him, and the store immediately reported the organization. But truthfully, the guy is lucky I didn’t punch him. As soon as he physically blocked me in, that was my first impulse, in fact. Everything he did was wrong, and going “But he just-” or “He wouldn’t really-” is just part of the same rape culture script.

    I really miss living in the UK, where solicitors aren’t allowed to approach you or hand things to you. YOU have all the power in that exchange. It’s not the same in the US, and it’s a problem… and it undoes any good that these charities are trying to accomplish.

    • EchoGirl June 4, 2018, 6:20 pm

      People are probably going to end up jumping down your throat over this, but I agree with you. There’s definitely an entitlement mentality here, and taking the scenario slightly out of context, “man physically intimidates woman because she said no to him”…that sounds familiar.

    • bambi_beth June 5, 2018, 4:00 pm

      Agreed and agreed. Brava!

    • Kitty October 22, 2018, 1:24 pm

      Instead of punching the guy, I might have slapped my hand very loudly against the doorframe he was blocking. And then give him The Mom Look. You are not physically threatening or hurting him, but you are scaring him.

  • lkb June 4, 2018, 9:03 am

    The charity worker was incredibly rude. It’s no one’s business how the OP (or anyone) uses his/her own money. “No, thank you.” really is all that’s necessary.

    FWIW, I really, really dislike fundraising drives like this, especially when the person is so in-your-face. If you have to do this, at least please stand to one side so people who really don’t have time to chat can get by. (How did the charity person know the OP wasn’t in fact rushing to get home to take care of the grandad?)

    Even worse than the ambushing at stores, however, I really, really, really dislike the fundraising drives that take place at intersections. They back up traffic no end and seem to be really unsafe for the volunteers. I remember once there was such a drive at a very narrow, congested intersection near a fire station. The rescue vehicles could not get by because there was a back-up because of the fundraisers at the corner. Oy!

    • Liz June 4, 2018, 2:12 pm

      The local fire dept does this at a main intersection i got by on my way home a couple of times a year. I don’t like it for all the reasons you described, not to mention, i don’t live in that town. SOrry, but if i’m going to donate anything, it will be to the one in MY town.

      • Cleosia June 4, 2018, 2:27 pm

        I love how our local fire dept used to collect for charities. They had a few people in their fire fighter uniforms at the city entrance/exit off the turnpike and on the island between the two, they had a coin toss. You want to give, fine. You don’t want to give, fine. And I think people actually had fun with this.

  • Queen of the Weezils June 4, 2018, 9:18 am

    This is my pet peeve! I run into this all the time, since I work in a place with a lot of foot traffic. Even if it is a cause that I support and regularly donate to, I categorically refuse to give to overly aggressive charity workers. Basically, if you ask me for money, the answer is no. When I want to donate, I’ll find YOU.

    I am currently managing the finances for my elderly mother-in-law who has early dementia. She’s gullible because of the disease, and lots of people take advantage of this. This has given me a rather dim view of charity drives. We’ve discovered that scammers pretend to be legit charities and that none of the funds actually reach the people they are meant to help. So, when someone is hitting you up for charity, how can you prove that they are actually from that organization? You really can’t. I recommend giving on your terms, by seeking out the organization through mail, phone, or internet search that YOU initiate.

    As for how to refuse, I find a “No, thanks” works best. If they are more aggressive you can say “I don’t give to charities in this way. If I decide to donate, I’ll send your organization a check.”And for one who refused to take “no” for an answer, I rounded on them and said that because of their rudeness, I am removing that charity from my donation list forever.

  • Susan. Haverland June 4, 2018, 9:19 am

    Well before I left the store , if possible I would have gone to the customer service desk and asked for the store .manager I would walk him over to the charity worker, and tell him I do not like being bothered trying to walk out of the store , and other customers too. . Oh yes I would. By the way you never have to give personal info
    Out .

    • Queen of the Weezils June 4, 2018, 9:41 am

      Please DON’T give personal information out without verifying who you are giving it to. Forget never “having to”. Just don’t. Here’s why: “Red Cross” called my mother-in-law after Hurricane Harvey to ask for donations. They made a big deal about donating now would supply matching funds, doubling the impact of her donation. So, having just watched news about the flooding in Houston and wanting to help, she gave out personal information. Of course it wasn’t actually the Red Cross. It was a scammer. I found out when I get an alert from the bank about international charges. They had charged multiple thousands to her credit card before I shut it down. Thankfully, because it was a credit card, she didn’t have to pay any of it.

    • Ange June 4, 2018, 8:37 pm

      It depends though, being a shopping centre (note the spelling) it’s probably part of a small mall type thing and the charity may have organised it through centre management, meaning the newsagent has no authority over them at all. Any complaint would have to have been directed to mall management.

  • Queen of the Weezils June 4, 2018, 9:19 am

    I think what bothers me the most in this story is that the charity worker BLOCKED EGRESS from the store. That is blatantly unacceptable.

    • MelEtiquette June 4, 2018, 9:58 am

      Right? It sounds like they may have been blocking the exit to the point that a queue would be forming behind them. I would be beyond annoyed by this.

      My presumption (perhaps a wrong one) is that these street CWs are trained not to block people from exiting stores/moving along the sidewalk and to generally take a “No” response as politely as possible without haranguing the uninterested individual. Certainly, harassment of a person who has already said “No” cannot be in the charity’s best interest. Then again, perhaps these CWs receive bonuses if a certain number of people sign up, which would provide motivation to the CW to be less than polite.

      • Queen of the Weezils June 4, 2018, 2:52 pm

        I haven’t seen anyone impede movement on the sidewalk or exiting stores, but many street “charity workers” don’t take no for an answer. It’s rude.

    • Shannon June 4, 2018, 2:15 pm

      Right. It’s beyond bad manners – it’s an intimidation tactic.

  • sam June 4, 2018, 9:26 am

    We get a lot of these “charity muggers” on the streets in NYC – they’ll often work in pairs to accost people walking in both directions down a crowded city sidewalk. Since I live on one of the busier streets in NYC, they are OFTEN on my block, or the surrounding area, and I regularly have to dodge them, and I’ve given up trying to be polite. I usually wear giant headphones, but if they still get in my face (I have whatever the opposite of “resting bitchface” is, so I get asked for things like directions constantly!)

    A few of my go to responses (that don’t involve simply sneering at them and pushing past)
    – “I don’t give out my contact information to complete strangers simply because they have an official looking clipboard” or “I should be able to walk down my own street without getting harassed 20 times a day”

    For the more aggressive, pushy ones, I find saying something really shocking usually gets them out of your way – saying something like “I actually hate [insert target of cause] and hope they all die”* is usually enough to get the worker to stop in their tracks dumbfounded and let you pass without further bother.

    *NOTE – I DO NOT ACTUALLY HATE THESE THINGS, and give time and money to many charities in my own time to support various causes (I mean, my brother is a senior aid worker for Save the Children, and I still wouldn’t give my info to some “clipboard pusher” on a sidewalk for that org) – I only use this as a ‘shock and awe’ strategy to get the REALLY pushy solicitors, the ones who will physically block your path and not let you walk down the street until you respond, to back off.

    • Devin June 4, 2018, 2:35 pm

      My office is adjacent to a busy shopping center in a very pedestrian city and the clipboard crews love to hang out in front of our building. I believe the shops in the center actually have banned them from their property, so the sidewalk my office entrance is on is the closest they can get.
      Like you, headphones and sunglasses are my go to to avoid them, plus the other street harassers that hang around. I also take the stance of ignore, ignore, ignore. I, and the OP, do not owe anyone time out of my life, if I don’t want to. The minute you give them two words, they’ll try and hook you in for a full conversation. Typically I’d say ignoring someone is rude, but they are rude for obstructing public walks ways and making an in requested dand on your time. I’m fairly certain I’m giving myself scowl lines trying to perfect my RBF, just so I can commute unharassed.
      OP, I’d raise your discomfort with the store management team. If they get enough complaints they’ll stop allowing the pushy charity folk inside their stores.

    • lkb June 5, 2018, 4:57 am

      On my first-ever trip to NYC this year, I was called “racist” for not contributing to a supposed musical group purportedly hawking their new CD on Times Square. They surrounded my husband, teen daughter and me seeking donations — they scammed my daughter out of $20 before I could intervene. I suppose it was really obvious that we were tourists but it took everything I had to not retaliate.

      • AFS June 5, 2018, 11:36 am

        The “do you like hip hop” scam is long-engrained. You were marked as tourists because you were in Times Square. Unless one works in an office building around there, New Yorkers consciously do all they can to avoid Times Square. Not blaming you, but hawkers gravitate toward the hunting grounds of their target market. (See also: the fake Buddhist monks that harangue tourists in Central Park and the High Line to buy their cheapo tokens.)

        If you had been in front of a Whole Foods (especially the ones at Union Square, Bryant Park, or Columbus Circle), you would have been in the cross hairs of a “do you have a minute for” charity mugger.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/nyregion/hawking-cds-on-the-street-swindlers-find-being-pushy-and-persistent-pays.html

    • Tracy W June 5, 2018, 11:58 pm

      My approach is to smile at them and say nothing, just go about my business. I’m not at all physically intimidating but a silent person just plowing through gives nothing to work with.

  • J June 4, 2018, 9:34 am

    I can’t believe he was allowed to block the exit like that. It just seems so wrong.

    When I was in college I took many classes at a downtown campus that was really mixed into the city so it didn’t have gates or boarders, and people from the city would walk through constantly. This one charity, focused on environmental issues, was often wondering around speaking with students. Not sure why they thought college kids has money to donate??
    Anyway, one day I’m walking to class and talking to a family member on the phone – time difference made every moment more valuable. The charity worker actually stepped in my path and said, “line 2! Mother NATURE calling!!”. He really did try to get me to hang up the phone to listen to his pitch, incredible! I just gave him crazy eyes and kept on marching to class. Still to this day can’t believe it!

  • essie June 4, 2018, 9:41 am

    I calmly say “No, thank you.” If they continue, I say, slightly louder and more forcefully “I SAID ‘No, thank you.” Substitute “I’m not interested” as appropriate.

  • VickyJoJo June 4, 2018, 9:43 am

    Unbelievable. I would have complained to management about this. And I don’t think it is too late to go back and inform management that they need to put better guidelines on those who do this outside their store. I get the same thing at our local grocery store. Usually, the charity is polite but there have been occasions that they are too aggressive. I actually once had to go back in the store and complain to management when they were trying to ask me if I found Jesus.

    I understand and appreciate the work they are doing. I strive to be polite in declining. But it becomes increasingly difficult to remain polite when they continue to push and push. It happens not only in person but on the phone as well. I had one guy actually yell at me when I would not donate to the annual drive because I was not in the position to. He started in on me that the vets the charity was supporting also had expenses. I was completely taken aback by the fact this man was yelling at me when I had merely politely declined and I didn’t want to respond with rudeness and hang up but I did. Needless to say, when they call again for this year’s drive, I will be declining then as well.

    • Tracy W June 6, 2018, 12:03 am

      Hanging up on an unsolicited phone call is not rude, it’s business manners. You are saving their valuable time as you are not going to buy anyway.

      If you want to be rude to telecallers, act very excited and interested in their product/charity/political party and then say something like “Gosh the pot’s about to boil over. Hang on a moment, I’ll be right back.” Then put the phone down and leave it there, on mute of course.

  • technobabble June 4, 2018, 9:48 am

    Reminds me of that scene from the movie Airplane! when the pilot getting accosted by charity workers in the airport turns into a martial arts-style fight scene 🙂

    Seriously, though, I can’t stand charities that solicit donations in this manner. I’ve noticed it getting worst in my area because even when the charity is one that I wouldn’t mind donating to, they won’t just take a one-time donation. They need to sign you up for monthly donations instead. We are a young family with our own bills to pay, and don’t have a lot of disposable income right now, so I can’t commit to a monthly donation schedule. So they lose out on any money they might have gotten for me.

    Had I been in OP’s situation I would have been a little scared that the CW was blocking my way out of the store. Not OK.

    I’m not above pretending to be on my phone when walking past pushy charity workers in public. Most of the time it works.

  • MelEtiquette June 4, 2018, 10:00 am

    “No” is a complete sentence, and is perfectly polite.

  • Lerah99 June 4, 2018, 10:06 am

    I am all for supporting good works.

    Feeding the hungry, housing the poor, saving the environment, freeing political prisoners, supporting the free practice of faith, protecting free speech, supporting refugees, aiding the legal defense of people who cannot afford their own, promoting social justice and equality, fighting against oppression and tyranny, supporting community centers, supporting programs for underprivileged kids, public radio and public broadcasting, medical care for the indigent, support for veterans, shelters for battered spouses and children, pet rescues, etc….

    There are dozens of causes, charities, and works for the public good that are worth my time, talent, and treasure.

    And not a single one of them has earned my support by siccing some pushy clipboard wielding volunteer or minimum wage paid contractor my way.

    I don’t mind charities who set up a table to the side of a store entrance. I can see their table. If I’m interested I can approach them to hear their spiel.

    But nothing will alienate me faster than being bombarded by someone blocking my way while trying to insinuate I’m a bad person for not immediately opening my wallet and throwing money at them for their “good cause”.

    I feel no need to justify my choices to those people. My interaction with them is limited to “No” and “You’re blocking my way.”

  • lakey June 4, 2018, 11:18 am

    I wouldn’t trust a non-profit or charity that operates like this. There are people who are collecting for charity, who behave very well. However, there are some who are paid for soliciting and, judging by their behavior, are paid based on how much they get donated. There are charity solicitors who are worse than regular, commission salespersons.

    Also, charities vary widely on what percent of the donated money actually goes to good works. It’s better to donate to charities that you are familiar with, or to do some research. The fact that this worker was pushing for an ongoing monthly donation is also concerning.

    If someone is blocking your exit and giving you attitude because you won’t donate, I wouldn’t worry about how you interacted with him.

  • pennywit June 4, 2018, 12:13 pm

    This may not be the most polite thing, but when one of these charity folks (or the sales cart people at the mall) approaches me with a come-on, I put up one hand and say “no” very emphatically. Brusque, yes. But I’ve found that sometimes this is the only way to ward off a pushy salesperson.

  • Princess Buttercup June 4, 2018, 12:21 pm

    A “no thanks” is all that is needed for any solicitation.
    In the case of being blocked at the door I’d add “now you need to move before you get in legal trouble for creating a safety hazard by blocking the door”. Whoever placed him there should have already taught him that.

    Not charity but still being hit up at the store. The once that set up shop in a store to settle windows, gutters, dish TV, whatever. They tend to like to block aisles and bombard you with a rushed yelled sales pitch and likely a comment about “rude” if you just ignore them. They tend to cause customers to take different routes to avoid them.
    Had one try to pester me not long ago, started with something like “do you have direct TV?”. I responded, “no, I’m homeless”. (I was living in either a rented RV or a tent at a camp ground at the time.) That clearly stopped them dead in their spiel tracks. The surprised look on their face was pretty good.
    Why any sells/charity pitch should just accept a “no thank you”. No guarantee that person can give.

  • JD June 4, 2018, 12:30 pm

    Wow, that guy was really over the top, and where was store management, indeed? I can’t believe they allowed that. OP, you could have said get out of my way and it would not have been rude. Nothing gave him the right to block your egress.
    We have only one discount retailer in this small town, a Walmart, and they allow all kinds of organizations to solicit from tables at all of their main entry ways. The thing is, many of these organizations have sloppy homemade signs with names like “Hungry Children Fund” or “House of Love,” that I’ve never heard of. I assume these are scams. Management there seems to have no rules on who begs, er, solicits at their doors.
    On the other hand, my husband was going into a Publix in another town near Christmas time, and saw a big sign for Toys for Tots. There weren’t any marines standing there, but he still gave them some money and duly received a receipt from the group. That’s when he read the fine print on the receipt and found out this was a different group, a group that promised only to donate 10% of their profits to Toys for Tots. He promptly informed the store manager, who just as promptly sent those people packing, then apologized profusely to my husband.
    The manager had been tricked into thinking they were the real Toys for Tots, just like my husband had been. That’s why I don’t give to anyone soliciting at a doorway, even if they are not blocking it or even if they claim to represent a charity I know.

    • Galatea June 5, 2018, 6:15 pm

      I’ll do a couple of dollars to Salvation Army. But that’s about it. I *seek out* the charities to which I want to donate. Scammers are horrible.

      On the other hand, individual beggars will almost always get some help from me. I’ve known some people who were reduced to begging, and I always picture them in that situation, and want to help. Besides, they’re not scamming for a monthly donation, are they?

  • Shannon June 4, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Women are socialized to “be nice” and not offend. This lands us in trouble.

    No one is entitled to your time and attention. Once the charity mugger started blocking the exit, he should have been escorted from the premises. That’s beyond rude, it’s an intimidation tactic. It’s extremely inappropriate.

    I would call the store’s management and tell them you will not be returning until the charity mugger is removed.

  • MPW1971 June 4, 2018, 2:29 pm

    While there are oversight and rating organizations for charities, I don’t know if they actively look at or even recommend “charity etiquette” – which would be a good thing, if this article and the comments are any indication.
    I know that it doesn’t seem to exist at the “unorganized” level – in my neighborhood in Canada, the local baseball team for high-school aged boys was standing outside the government-run Liquor Store asking for donations. Now this was a team of elite players in an organized, multi-city league, in a very well-to-do neighborhood, where the average household income was near double the median, as were house prices. This is the extreme suburbs – 2 miles from my house was the nearest operating farm – with large lots and big, fancy new subdivisions. And here they were, begging for money. Parents and teens – but mostly parents – in front of a government-operated Liquor Store no less. No tax receipt – just a coffee can and a thank-you.
    Most other organizations like this run legitimate fund-raising activities rather than simply begging for money – sales of chocolate bars, bottle drives, garage sales, car washes, bbq’s – just as Girl Guides sell cookies and Cub Scouts sell apples in the fall – there was always some activity to earn the money, and not just get a donation for free.
    Years ago these stores came down hard on panhandlers and buskers in front of their doors, so I was shocked to hear that the manager of the store assumed that the charity was approved from above because their representative said so. I asked if she saw papers to that effect but she had not.
    There’s a law against “aggressive panhandling” in parts of Canada, and that would include charities – you can’t solicit people waiting at an ATM or bus stop, on public transit, in a vehicle, ask repeatedly, use violence or threats, or block their way. This law was not meant to target charities, but rather panhandlers and “squeegee kids” who would clean your windshield while stopped and then “demand” payment or threaten vandalism.
    But people are reluctant to call the police over minor harassment – charities are supposed to be licensed and doing “good work” – but I won’t donate no matter what the cause, if they ask in a way I find offensive. No telephone solicitations for me. No “passing the hat” without a receipt or charity number. No begging by children. Blocking the door is a whole other level of bad.

  • staceyizme June 4, 2018, 4:02 pm

    The best way to avoid a conversation is not to engage. You don’t even have to say “no”. You can just shake your head (throw in a regretful look if it will help ease your sense of conscience towards social grace) and continue on your way. His placement is unfortunate and even though he’s collecting for a charity, he’s similar, in my view, to the aggressive purveyors of product in the grand hallways of sizable shopping malls. They literally call out to people, accost them physically by spraying things on them or by trying to conduct an impromptu interview with respect to skin care, hair care products, hair appliances and sundry other drivel. Keep moving and if you can’t manage to move along briskly, at least look somber and quite preoccupied. It should deter all but the most indelicate. Anyone who has the temerity to persist beyond that boundary should be prepared to hear “ow…! I think it’s TIME…!” (or whatever version of that sentiment that you might feel comfortable presenting as a deterrent).

    • Miss R June 5, 2018, 6:51 am

      Only for use by the very pregnant, like OP – “Please get out of my way, I need to find a bathroom NOW!!!”

  • Vicki June 4, 2018, 5:13 pm

    Sometimes I will tell the ones on the street “I’m already a member” (if I am or have been) or “I don’t give money to strangers on the street.” That one isn’t quite true–I do give to occasional buskers–but I certainly don’t hand them my credit card information., and it short-circuits arguments about it being a good cause, or whether I care about the poor starving orphan velociraptors.

    The last time one of those people stuck his hand, holding a leaflet, in my path I just kept going, and knocked the leaflet aside. I probably wouldn’t have walked directly into a person who got in my way, though, and I’m not sure what I would do, or recommend, in the situation described here. A loud “Let me go!” seems appealing, while I’m sitting here in front of my computer, but I might not manage it in person.

  • Ergala June 4, 2018, 5:29 pm

    I admit if I feel like I am being pushed on I will lie and say I already donated elsewhere. Money for us is very very tight since I lost my job and I was the breadwinner. I honestly cannot spare $1 or $5. I honestly don’t like being approached period. I think if they are sitting there with a table and a sign that is good enough and people will approach if they feel inclined to do so. I live in a very small town and everyone knows everyone else, we will recognize you and come over to chat and often times those people will donate. But when I say I donated elsewhere and they raise their eyebrow and say “Oh really now”….I didn’t want a lecture about the charity and I didn’t want the guilt trip so yes I fibbed now leave me alone to go be ashamed about my inability at the moment to donate money to your cause.

    • Tracy W June 6, 2018, 12:33 am

      Why lie? Just say something like “Oh I’m so sorry but it just doesn’t work for me.” If they are so rude as to demand to know why not, you can just keep repeating “Oh it just doesn’t, but thanks so much for thinking of me.”

  • GinaTonic June 4, 2018, 5:29 pm

    I find “I already donate to x, thank you!” always works for the clipboard people.

  • T June 4, 2018, 5:41 pm

    “I’m afraid my charity budget is already taken for the moment, but I’ll keep your organization in mind”

    Too many scammers and poorly run organizations out there for me to bother with street solicitors, as callous as that may sound.

  • Kimberly June 4, 2018, 6:58 pm

    I have a couple of different ways to deal with charities at doors
    1. Boy/Girl Scouts and school groups. I buy 1 box of cookies. I donate $5 to boy scouts or school groups. (The BS coupons don’t fit my buying patterns, popcorn is either to big or has peanut warnings. School groups are usually bake sales so run into the food allergy problem)

    2. Marine Toys for Tots – give them a gift.

    3. Church groups/panhandlers bugging people in the parking lots. Report to the manager they have no-trespass orders against most of these. One church group nearly got punched in the face. I was putting my groceries in my trunk. They pulled their van behind me, blocking me in. Slid open the door and jumped out. Think of the kidnap scene in a really bad lifetime network woman in peril movie. My reaction was to start to elbow one jerk and knee the other. I realized what they were and pulled back at the last second.

    4. One weekend I went shopping and in every parking lot were local kids panhandling for money to pay extracurricular fees (Except all might and god-like football player the most expensive extracurricular and they pay no fees). I was cursed at when I refused. I sent an e-mail with pics to the superintendent and asked when panhandling was added to the TEKS, and threatened to organize a group to oppose a bond issue. Got a reply back at 10 am Monday. They claimed a group of kids got mad because they found out some Title I students fees had been paid by the school (this is the law). A new teacher got tired of their complaints and sarcastically suggested they panhandle. I haven’t seen it happen since.

    5. Baseball teams (League not school) panhandling in an intersection near me. Both roads are 6 lanes, 45 mph. One is a State HW the other Farm to Market road. Kids under 15 some were under 10. After double checking that allowing minors to panhandle in traffic is illegal, I started calling the non-emergency line about the situation. They would send a deputy out to stop it. After a couple of months it stopped.

    6. Charter school using kids some couldn’t have been older than 5 or 6 to panhandle, but this was at an Underpass for a highway. The cross street had a sharp turn, dipped down under an RR bridge, then turned again as it came up to the light. There is NO foot traffic here, so you are looking for the light, not pedestrians – I saw a car nearly hit one of the younger kids because the kid walked right off the medium into traffic. Thankfully it was a car. The driver must have stood on the breaks to stop the car. Most of the traffic there is 18 wheelers coming out of an industrial yard. If it had been one of those there is no way the truck could have stopped. The kid would have been dead and the driver would have had to deal with the guilt. I called 911. The operator told me cops were on the way because other drivers had already called.

  • Karen L June 4, 2018, 8:00 pm

    Don’t break stride, look ’em in the eye, and say “Not today”. “Not today” makes me feel less rude. Only once did I get the retort (from a homeless person) of “If not today, then WHEN?!?!” which I ignored.

  • BagLady June 4, 2018, 8:02 pm

    As soon as I got home I would be firing off a letter or email to the CEO of the charity and the manager/owner of the store (or the CEO of the parent company if it’s a chain), and making it clear that I would not be donating to the charity or patronizing the store ever again because of this behavior. It’s not just rude — blocking an exit is a safety hazard.

    Maybe it won’t change anything — they may decide that the occasional PO’ed shopper is the price they pay for whatever they rake in from the non-PO’d, or the easily intimidated — but maybe it will. Charities do not like bad PR.

    I detest those charity collections at intersections — around here they are called “coin drops” or “barrel drives,” because they sometimes have one of those orange and white traffic barrels out there with them — but at least those are easier to ignore. I just keep my window rolled up and my eyes straight ahead, while seething inwardly about how obnoxious, intrusive and hazardous the setup is.

    I can resist the Girl Scout cookie tables, even when they send Little Miss Cutie McCute out to do the ask. They don’t annoy me anywhere near as much as the pushy adult solicitor types the OP describes. I say a polite “No thanks” and wish them luck.

    My favorite Girl Scout cookie sales operation is in the parking lot of a drugstore I frequent. It’s a drive-through! They have a van parked off to the side, and lots of signs to let people know it’s there and that they take credit cards. The girls know not to approach a vehicle unless it comes to them, and it’s easy to avoid if one isn’t interested.

    • Miss R June 5, 2018, 6:54 am

      I love Girl Scouts, the cookies – not so much. Especially since they make so little on each box. I just give them a cash donation. Not interested in contributing to the profits of a cookie manufacturer.

  • koolchicken June 4, 2018, 9:10 pm

    I have made it a personal policy not to donate to any charities that are collecting outside, or inside of stores, as well as those just on the street. With so many of them you can’t really be sure they’re legit. They can be dressed up to look like they’re part of a known organization but they’re aren’t. Plus, it’s not like you can stand there and research them appropriately, that takes too much time. The problem is, I’m not donating to any charity I haven’t fully researched. I also won’t donate at the register because I can’t stand the way some cashiers phrase it. Saying “do you want to help kids fight cancer today” really only has one socially acceptable answer. And the ones who will badger you if you say no? If I say no, it’s not opening negotiations, the answer is no. So I tend to take a snarky approach and say something to the tune of “Of course not!” or, “why would you ask that?” No, it’s not okay to try and guilt someone out of their money. Could I afford to give? Sure, that’s why I do- to my preferred organizations and in my own preferred way. But what about the person who truly doesn’t have that dollar to give and is feeling heavily guilted?

    Honestly, I think fundraising of these types needs to be outlawed. If people want to give, and can afford to, they’ll give. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be harassed. Fundraising has reached the stage where it NEEDS to be legislated more heavily. No more for profit charities tricking people. No more scammers allowed to set up shop in stores and on city streets. It’s getting out of hand. We’ve seen things like the ice bucket challenge cripple charities with more donations than they can handle. So people are keen to give. But no one should be harassed into it by a charity that may or may not be getting that money where it needs to go.

  • Wendy June 4, 2018, 9:42 pm

    I hate charity muggers hate them and actively avoid them at all costs. I used to at least listen but then I was accoustered by one outside the hospital I worked at asking for donations to a cancer charity. I said no and pointed out he was potentially asking people who themselves had just been treated for cancer (I worked and still do in a major oncology center), lost a family member or friend or had just been given a very bad prognosis. He said “or the more reason for them to sign up”. I was so angry and still am.

  • Lindsey June 5, 2018, 4:20 am

    Sometimes I’ll just say that I already make monthly donations to whichever charity they are selling – they drop you like a stone!

    These charity workers are effectively cold callers, they expect most people to say no, often rudely, so I don’t think you need worry about saying ‘I’m not interested’ or ‘I’m in a hurry, I don’t have time’ and walk away.

  • NostalgicGal June 5, 2018, 4:44 am

    I thought in all businesses, there is a zone at the enterance and the exit that must be clear and remain clear during business hours. ‘Chuggers’ that set up shop on way in or way out must have the business approval and can not block, hinder or harass any patron of the business. Which means if you walk straight out you must not have anyone preventing you from doing so. They can be beside you and at volume but you must be able to enter or leave without direct issue. IF anything is otherwise you can complain to the business (if they are inside the business and/or gained permission from the business to be there) or you may call the authorities directly (most of us have a cellphone now) about being harassed.
    Pollsters and petition signers, and union strike lines were the reason for some rules being mandated by law. One big city chain of stores had some of the workers end up on strike. They had pharmacies in the stores as well and that staff wasn’t affected, but. You had to cross the line to go in. The strikers could be very vocal but they couldn’t block, touch, or impede ANYONE from going in or out. I had someone real loud and proud at my ear when I went in, but through several people standing there, I could go in. I got my prescription, and on way out held up the distinctive bag, stapled shut with the paperwork and receipt stapled to it. That same woman then cheered and led others about it (I was respecting their strike it seemed, I didn’t buy groceries). I didn’t like it and shopped elsewhere until it ended.
    Girl Scouts have in later years gone from door to door sales into buying many cases of cookies and setting up with card table outside our big chain grocery stores and some of the big box stores. Same, they must be so far from the exit and stay so far from the exit and allow customers to leave without being stopped or otherwise prevented from freely leaving the store.
    I would say if I was harassed on the way out, I’d just record, especially in the OP’s case where I could hear this going on, at least three, before heading out, and keep it running until you were fully out and disengaged finally from whatever… then call the authorities and complain. Three plus yourself is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that they are being at mildest an annoyance and at worst, threatening. Let the charity etc try to explain if their reps get arrested or hoofed by the police… great for the news, bad PR for them…

  • Lauren June 5, 2018, 5:01 pm

    Where I live the chuggers come in teams at night and knock on your door and try to get you to sign up for monthly donations on the doorstep. I’ve stopped answering my door in the evenings. I donate to charities as and when I can afford to and don’t appreciate this approach

  • WickedWitchoftheWest June 5, 2018, 10:33 pm

    Blocking the exit is going too far. Approaching people/talking to them is annoying for most of us, but a tactic like that is too much. When someone from one charity went too far – in a different way though, on there being no answer at the door but having seen a car there they took it on themselves to walk down my driveway, past my house and then across to the other side of the yard where I was hanging out washing. I not only said no, but called the organisation and told them that I would not be donating to them again because of it. Similar in that they are both disrespecting people and being threatening, if not overtly.

    I have donated regularly to charities since I started working, volunteer etc, but do not give to any charity muggers purely because, even if I do want to support the charity, donating this way results in nothing going to the charity for the first year in most cases. I also prefer to research and decide which charities I want to donate to…so I can be confident I am happy with them and their operations. The exception I make for people at shopping centres is those who are clearly volunteers and don’t approach people generally – in this case, even if not one of my chosen charities, I often make a small donation as I really appreciate the time they spend on it.

    And I love the ‘JADE’ thing someone mentioned, saving it, using it, sharing it with my daughters!

  • SleepIsabella June 6, 2018, 6:59 pm

    Donating to a charity should be done out of the goodness of your heart. Pushy charity workers guilting people into parting with their money I find disturbing(especially if that person is on a tight budget to begin with). It completely undermines the point of donating to charities. Treating potential donators rudely can also be detrimental to the cause and can even put people off ever donating to that organization in the future.

  • Breezy Girl July 6, 2018, 5:09 pm

    I once had a lady who was collecting money for a “charity” or selling something follow me through the parking lot of the store I had been shopping in. I had seen her on the way and was trying to actively avoid her but she started following me even after I repeatedly told her “no thank you”. I’m sure she thought I was an easy mark as I was in flip flops but guess again…I walked so quickly away from her that she ended up telling my mom “it’s hard to keep up with her”. At which point my mom started walking faster and the lady gave up and out of breath.

  • Kitty October 22, 2018, 1:18 pm

    I do not think saying “No, thank you” or even “Not interested” is rude. Especially not if the man is blocking the only exit door, which is incredibly rude to do.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.