Calls for strong regulations of 'charity muggers' on our city streets

Mike Duffy and Nicholas McCallum

They skulk about entrances to railway stations and shopping centres hoping to get your attention.

Look them in the eye or acknowledge them at all and they will trap you in their charity-charm offensive.

They are the "charity muggers" – or sometimes just "chuggers" – and many people are fed up their entire approach and behaviour.

Sydney City councillor Edward Mandla said it is time regulations were introduced to stop the strong-arm tactics employed by some of the fundraisers who flood our cities' thoroughfares.

Sydney City councillor Edward Mandla wants 'chuggers' to follow strickter rules'. Source: 7 News

"I think people should have a basic right to go about their daily lives without hindrance," Cr Mandla told 7 News.

"For the charity muggers, no means no. No following. No blocking paths. And no 'chugging' within three metres of a pedestrian crossing, a business, an ATM."

Sydneysiders on the streets agreed with the councillor's sentiments.

"Hate it. Absolutely hate it. I rather they didn't do it," one woman told 7 News in Sydney's Pitt Street Mall.

"It can be inconvenient and you don't want to seem (as though) you're not caring," said another woman.

Most of Australia's biggest and best-known charities – such as the Cancer Council, Oxfam, Wilderness Society and Fred Hollows – use chuggers as grunts to raise money but complaints against them are rising.

Reports made against chuggers working around Melbourne have gone up 70 per cent in the past three years, The Herald Sun reports.

Grievances range from blocking footpaths or shopfronts, insufficient or no identification and being overly aggressive.

Community Council of Australia CEO David Crosbie told 7 News: "When they go to far, they need to be stopped."

"And I think the best way of stopping them it to contact the charity and say, 'Look, I'm unhappy with the work that's being done in your name."

A 7 News investigation from last year found three private companies – Cornucopia Fundraising, The Fundraising People and Ways Fundraising – employ a large majority of the chuggers on our streets and net almost all funds donated in the first year.

Although many charity organisations have not historically been forthcoming with their accounting books the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission now oversees them.

The watchdog monitors Australia's 54,131 registered charities, handles complaints and has the power to revoke charitable status.