Every job has its ups and downs, but there’s one job that has more downs than anything else. It’s a job in which you can be ignored by almost everyone, sworn at, patronised and sometimes, even racially abused. You see this people on a regular basis, and you could perhaps have ignored them earlier today if you were walking about the city.
What job is this and who are these people, you wonder? Welcome to the world of charity collectors, the smiling people who try and get donations for the charities they represent, standing on street corners and footpaths for hours on end.
A report in The Daily Telegraph revealed The Fair Work Ombudsman was poised to initiate an inquiry. This inquiry will investigate how charities outsource their fundraising, and reportedly will consider stricter punishments on charities that allow for-profit middlemen to rort the system.
News.com.au spoke to a few charity collectors – called “charity muggers” as a criticism of their tactics being confrontational and intrusive – who said they copped a full spectrum of responses.
“There are three sorts of people. The ones who will just ignore you, the ones who politely decline or the ones who say something angry,” said Sam, who works for the Red Cross.
He has only been in the job two weeks but has already been on the receiving end of abuse.
“I got asked if I was from ISIS,” he said pointing to his beard. Others speculated they would pocket the money for themselves. “They say ‘you’re just going to keep the money’.”
Sam said very negative responses were relatively rare, with the worst of it being a cold shoulder. That happened a lot. He estimated the success rate was only about “one in 10”.
Chandra, 20, has only just begun her job collecting for the Fred Hollows Foundation. She watched one man tell her boss to “f**k off” and has grown used to people not returning her smile or greetings.
“I feel like saying to them, ‘that’s OK you don’t want to contribute, but you could say hello back’.”
When she did convey that to people the usual response was: “It’s your job — so get used to it.”
One middleman fundraiser investigated by the Ombudsman for underpayment earlier this year raised funds for The Wilderness Society, OXFAM Australia, UNICEF, RSPCA, Starlight Children’s Foundation of Australia and the Cancer Council.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell told the Telegraph everyone involved in charitable fundraising had a “social, moral and corporate responsibility to ensure compliance with workplace laws”.
“Many charities have no idea whether the workers who are wearing hats and T-shirts bearing their logos and collecting donations on their behalf are being paid correctly or treated fairly,” he said.
Many charities had been “horrified” to discover workers were being exploited.